Sinuses consist of air-filled cavities which usually surround the nasal region. They are close to the eyes, cheeks, and forehead. Clear sinuses allow more comfortable and faster draining of mucus from the nose.
When a person suffers from a sinus infection, some of the irritating symptoms they may experience include:
- Swelling and tenderness around the facial region
- Nasal congestion and runny nose
- Pain around the face, forehead, and near the eyes
- Whole-body fever and fatigue
Generally, sinusitis infections display the same symptoms, just like a common cold. Although these infections usually get better on their own. You can use over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to treat them.
Some of the best OTC medications for sinus infections include:
1. Pain Relievers
Sinusitis causes swelling and inflammation. As a result, the affected person normally ends up with painful sinuses. You may start feeling a dull ache on the side of your nose, between the eyes, upper jaw, and the forehead. However, there are several OTC pain relievers which can efficiently deal with the pain caused by sinuses.
The most common one is Advil (ibuprofen), a nonsteroidal and anti-inflammatory drug that’s typically used to ease various forms of pain. Advil is not only a painkiller but also a nasal decongestant that helps to reduce nasal congestion. Apart from Advil, sinus patients can also use Tylenol and Aspirin.
Note: Children should not use Aspirin for sinusitis without consulting a doctor. It can lead to the development of Reye's Syndrome, which is severe liver damage that can result in other unfavorable symptoms.
2. Nasal Steroids
These OTC drugs contain corticosteroids which help to ease inflammation caused by sinus. They quickly relieve sinus and nasal congestion. It should be noted that regular use of nasal corticosteroids also helps to reduce sensitivity along the nasal passage.
These drugs aid the production of cortisol hormone, which is produced naturally by the adrenal glands. When you spray nasal steroid into your nose, it reduces the swelling caused by sinusitis inflammation. These steroids specifically target inflamed cells which produce an excess amount of mucus.
Furthermore, they may help to relieve other symptoms such as a congested nose, runny nose, and sneezing.
Common Types of OTC
Nasal steroids include Rhinocort, Flonase, Nasonex, and Veramyst. It should be noted that OTC drugs are not dangerous when you use them in the recommended doses. They contain corticosteroids which act just like cortisol, a chemical that’s produced naturally in the body. Nasal steroids are, in fact, the go-to solution for most people with sinus infections.
Note: refrain from using nasal steroids continuously for over a month. Once you have obtained the desired effects, discontinue use. Alternatively, you can gradually reduce your dose to minimize the chances of withdrawal side effects such as:
- Headaches and dizziness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Joint and muscle pains
Although antihistamines are generally used to treat allergies, some sinusitis infections have similar symptoms to allergies. This means that you can effectively use OTC antihistamines to treat these symptoms.
Benadryl is one of the most effective antihistamines for sinusitis. It helps to relax the body to allow the patient to sleep better at night. After all, rest is very important when you have sinus problems. It helps to ease fatigue and improves recovery time.
Other antihistamines that you can purchase over-the-counter include: Allegra, Claritin, Cetirizine, and others.
Note: you can only use antihistamines for sinus infection if it has an allergy component to it. Otherwise, avoid using them since they can worsen your sinus symptoms. Some of them can even thicken the mucus, making the clearing process difficult. Antihistamines can cause excessive drying of the mucus and as a result, reduce the drainage process.
4. Mucoactive Agents
These are drugs that help to clear mucus from the lower or upper airways. The most effective form of mucoactive agent for sinusitis is mucolytics. You can buy it as Mucinex or guaifenesin. These mucolytics help to clear up mucus from the lungs and sinus. They work by dissolving the chemical bonds to loosen the mucus, thereby enhancing the draining process.
Note: there is no real scientific evidence that indicates if mucolytics such as Guaifenesin can help to treat sinusitis. However, a lot of people who have used it say that it has definitely sped up the recovery process.
They help to reduce inflammation or swellings caused by narrow blood vessels. Most decongestants are available in the form of OTC pills and liquids.
Sudafed is the best decongestant for sinusitis. It contains pseudoephedrine properties which help to make breathing easier.
Note: only use decongestants to treat sinus sparingly. If you have any underlying medical conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and glaucoma, then you should avoid using them. This is because decongestants can significantly increase blood pressure and lead to more congestion.
When to See a Doctor for a Sinus Infection
If you think a bacterial infection is responsible for your sinusitis, then you should get antibiotics from your doctor.
Amoxil is the most common form of antibiotics for sinusitis. It is a potent drug that fights off a broad range of bacterial strains. It’s vital to completely use the full course of Amoxil antibiotic to ensure that the infection is completed eradicated.
Note: You should only consider using antibiotics if your sinus is severe. It’s also appropriate if you have a weak immune system or have an underlying medical condition such as lung disease or diabetes. The resistance rates of antibiotics are also rapidly increasing, so exercise caution when using these drugs to treat sinusitis.
The above-mentioned medications are some of the best OTC drugs for treating sinusitis. They help to reduce inflammation, enhance sinus drainage, and provide pain relief. You can also use them alongside other home remedies such as steam inhalation, humidifiers, and warm compress.
Even while you are under medication, it’s important to drink lots of clear fluids to clear out the congestion and loosen the mucus. Note that sinusitis symptoms usually last for around 7 to 12 days. However, if you have used an OTC drug and the symptoms still persist, then you need to seek professional medical advice.
When buying any OTC drug, make sure that you read the label first. Some of these drugs are not suitable for children or teens. Besides that, they may not be suitable for users with certain underlying medical conditions. So, to reduce your chances of suffering from unwanted side effects, carefully go through the label.
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