Treatment Options for Sinus Infections (Sinusitis)

Most short-term sinus infections can be treated medically. Even people with long-term or chronic sinus infections can find relief through medication. But if none of these treatments works for you, sinus surgery may be the best way to ease your symptoms.

There are two types of sinus infections. Short-term or acute sinus infections appear and then clear up in a matter of days or weeks. Long-term or chronic sinus infections continue for months or keep coming back.

Medical Treatment

Acute sinus infections may have the same symptoms as a cold and many cases go away on their own. Your doctor may suggest that you take a common decongestant to ease your symptoms. 

If your sinus infection lingers for longer than a week, it’s likely that the cause is bacterial. In this case, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Most cases of acute bacterial sinusitis clear up after a course of antibiotics.

Chronic sinus infections can also be treated medically. Depending on how severe your condition is, your doctor may prescribe oral antibiotics, antibiotics that are inhaled through your nose, or antibiotics that are injected directly into your bloodstream.

Sinus Surgery

Some infections may be treatable with medical therapy and/or lifestyle changes, while others may require surgery. Medical treatments are typically tried first. In general, your doctor will suggest surgery only after all other treatments have failed to ease your symptoms.

The type of sinus surgery your doctor recommends depends on your particular condition. The three most common sinus operations are:

  • Ethmoidectomy – which helps clear the sinuses located between your eyes and the bridge of your nose
  • Maxillary antrostomy – which helps the sinuses behind your cheekbones drain more effectively
  • Powered septoplasty with turbinoplasty – which helps clear up breathing difficulties caused by a deviated or crooked nasal septum and enlarged turbinates in your nose

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 22 Sep 2010

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