How long does a sinus infection last?
A sinus infection has symptoms similar to the common cold. The biggest difference between the two is how long these symptoms last. Symptoms of sinusitis usually last no more than 10 days. Chronic sinusitis lasts for 12 weeks or longer.
Sinus infections almost always get better on their own. Antibiotics won’t help sinus infections caused by viruses, such as second-hand smoke, or airborne irritants. But there are things you can do to speed up the recovery process.
- Drink plenty of water
Make sure you stay hydrated enough to help flush the virus out of your system. Aim to drink at least 8 ounces of water every 2 hours.
- Eat foods with antibacterial properties
Add antibacterial foods like garlic, ginger, and onions to your diet to fight viruses.
You can also try ginger tea. Add raw honey. Honey is rich in antioxidants and has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
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- Add moisture
Keeping the sinuses moist can help reduce pressure. Here are some tips for dealing with fluid sinuses.
Sleep with a humidifier in your bedroom to relieve nasal congestion at night.
Use a natural saline nasal spray during the day and before bed. These can be purchased at your local pharmacy and used several times a day to help relieve congestion. Avoid sprays that contain oxymetazoline because you can become dependent on them.
Expose the sinuses to steam. Take regular hot showers and breathe moist air. You can also fill a cup with boiling water and steep for 10 minutes. Wrap both the head and the cup with a thick towel. Keep your nose 10 inches above the water.
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- Clean the sinuses with oil
Eucalyptus oil helps open sinuses and clear mucus. One study found that cynol, a key ingredient in eucalyptus oil, helped people with acute sinusitis heal faster.
To relieve sinus and upper respiratory infections, eucalyptus oil can be applied topically to the temples or chest, or added to boiling water and inhaled through a diffuser.
Be sure to use only edible essential oils. Rub a drop of each oil on the roof of your mouth and then drink a glass of water.
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- Use a neti pot
Nasal irrigation is a process often used to relieve the symptoms of sinusitis. Recent studies have shown that using saline neti pots can help relieve some symptoms of chronic sinusitis.
Follow the instructions on your specific neti pot. Here are the general directions:
Fill the container with salt solution.
Tilt your head over the sink at a 45-degree angle.
Insert the nozzle of the bottle into the upper nostril. Carefully pour the saline solution into the nostrils.
Repeat the procedure with the other nostril.
Be careful to sterilize the wand after each use. Only distilled water is used. Water directly from the sink may contain bacteria and parasites, making your condition worse.
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- Relieve facial pain with a warm compress
Applying moist and warm heat can help relieve sinus pain. To relieve facial pain, place a warm, moist towel around your nose, cheeks, and eyes. It also helps to clean the nasal passages from the outside.
- Use of over-the-counter (OTC) medications
If home remedies don’t work for you, ask your pharmacist to recommend an OTC treatment. OTC decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) can relieve sinusitis symptoms by constricting blood vessels.
It helps reduce inflammation and swelling. It can improve sinus drainage.
If you have high blood pressure, consult your doctor or pharmacist before using pseudoephedrine. There are cold and sinus medications for people with high blood pressure called Coricidin HBP.
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Pain caused by increased nasal pressure can be alleviated by using one of the following methods.
ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
If nasal congestion is caused by an allergic reaction, antihistamines can help stop the inflammation.
Always follow your pharmacist’s advice and package directions when using OTC medications.
- Get a prescription
If you have chronic sinusitis or a sinus infection caused by bacteria, your doctor is unlikely to prescribe antibiotics. Your allergist or primary care provider will determine whether your sinus infection is caused by bacteria or viruses. They will do this:
asking about your symptoms
perform a physical examination
swabbing the inside of the nose (not done regularly)
o take antibiotics for as long as your doctor has prescribed. Don’t stop taking them early, even if your symptoms improve.