Sinusitis Medication: Pharmacy Options & Home Remedies

Updated in December 2022

Sinusitis medication, like analgesics, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics or decongestants, help to relieve symptoms like a stuffy or runny nose, headache, or facial heaviness. These medications work by helping to decrease inflammation within the nasal sinuses, facilitating secretion elimination or fighting bacteria. 

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal sinuses that can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection within the nasal sinuses. This condition can also emerge with allergies. 

Medication for sinusitis should be used as directed by a doctor, who will prescribe them based on the presenting symptoms and their severity. There are also some home remedies, like eucalyptus inhalations, that can complement treatment indicated by a doctor and speed-up recovery. 

Imagem ilustrativa número 1

Pharmacy options

There are many medications available for purchase at the pharmacy. These may be available over-the-counter or may require a prescription:

1. Saline solutions 

Patients with sinusitis should frequently irrigate their sinuses using saline solutions, like sodium chloride 0.9& or sea salt water solutions. Irrigation can help to clear out the sinuses and reduce symptoms, like stuffy or runny nose. This method can also help to remove irritants and allergens stuck within the sinuses. Read more about how to perform a nasal irrigation using our step-by-step guide. 

2. Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids, like fluticasone, budesonide and mometasone, can be prescribed as nasal sprays. These help to prevent and treat local inflammation. With severe sinusitis, the doctor may opt for oral or injectable corticosteroids. 

3. Descongestants

Decongestants, like nafazoline chloride or oxymetazoline, are also available as nasal sprays. These can be used to relieve symptoms of a stuffy or runny nose. 

You should be cautious with these products, however, as they can cause a rebound effect that worsens symptoms. This happens when the body senses that nasal secretions have suddenly decreased, and starts to produce even more. 

Another way to use decongestants is with oral pills. Many will decrease a runny or stuffy nose, as well as provide an analgesic affect that relieves pain.

4. Antibiotics

Antibiotics, like amoxicillin or lexofloxacin, may be prescribed by the doctor if the sinusitis is caused by a bacterial infection. These medications help to stop the growth and spread of bacteria. 

Antibiotic treatments usually last for 7 to 10 days, and should be monitored by a doctor. 

5. Analgesics e anti-inflammatories

Some analgesics and anti-inflammatories, like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, may be prescribed by a doctor for the treatment of sinusitis to reduce sinus inflammation and relieve headaches. 

These medication can also relieve a sore throat, which is a common symptom of sinusitis.

6. Antihistamines 

If sinusitis is caused by allergies, it may be more difficult to treat. The doctor may prescribe treatment with antihistamines, like ctirizine, loratadine or bilastine. Immunotherapy, which is the administration of specific injections over a specific period of time, may also help to reduce the exagerrated allergy responses. 

Treatment for children

Medications for children with sinusitis are very similar to those prescribed for adults. These should be monitored by a pediatrician, who will assess symptoms and prescribe based on the child’s presentation, age and weight. Nasal irrigation may be a good option to clean out nasal secretions from the sinuses.

Treatment during pregnancy

Sinusitis medicine, like antibiotics or corticosteroids, are not recommended for pregnant women. They should only be sparingly under the guidance of an obstetrician, as they can cause negative effects to the mom and the baby’s health. 

Acetaminophen can be taken safely to relieve pain caused by sinusitis. It is important to take it as directed by a doctor. Natural remedies, like nasal irrigation, some teas and vapor inhalations, are safe during pregnancy. 

Home remedies

You can use nebulizer therapy device 2 to 3 times per day for 20 minutes to help clear out the sinuses. They can be particularly effective when used with herbs like eucalyptus or sponge cucumber. An alternative to nebulizing is inhaling vapor during a hot shower. 

Other considerations for recovering from sinusitis include ensuring plenty of rest and fluids. Warm compresses on the face and sleeping with your head slightly elevated can help to drain any built-up secretions. Check out other home remedies for sinus infections that you can try to naturally relieve symptoms.