Sinusitis (Antibiotic Treatment)

Illustration of the face showing inflamed sinuses.

The sinuses are air-filled spaces within the bones of the face. They connect to the inside of the nose. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the tissue that lines the sinuses. Sinusitis can occur during a cold. It can also happen due to allergies to pollens and other particles in the air. Sinusitis can cause symptoms of sinus congestion and a feeling of fullness. A sinus infection causes fever, headache, and facial pain. There is often green or yellow fluid draining from the nose or into the back of the throat (post-nasal drip). You have been given antibiotics to treat this condition.

Home care

  • Take the full course of antibiotics as instructed. Don't stop taking them, even when you feel better.

  • Drink plenty of water, hot tea, and other liquids as directed by the healthcare provider. This may help thin nasal mucus. It also may help your sinuses drain fluids.

  • Heat may help soothe painful areas of your face. Use a towel soaked in hot water. Or, stand in the shower and direct the warm spray onto your face. Using a vaporizer along with a menthol rub at night may also help soothe symptoms. 

  • An expectorant with guaifenesin may help thin nasal mucus and help your sinuses drain fluids. Talk with your provider or pharmacists before taking an over-the-counter (OTC) medicine if you have any questions about it or its side effects..

  • You can use an OTC decongestant, unless a similar medicine was prescribed to you. Nasal sprays work the fastest. Use one that contains phenylephrine or oxymetazoline. First blow your nose gently. Then use the spray. Don't use these medicines more often than directed on the label. If you do, your symptoms may get worse. You may also take pills that contain pseudoephedrine. Don’t use products that combine multiple medicines. This is because side effects may be increased. Read labels. You can also ask the pharmacist for help. (People with high blood pressure should not use decongestants. They can raise blood pressure.) Talk with your provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about the medicine..

  • OTC antihistamines may help if allergies contributed to your sinusitis. Talk with your provider or pharmacist if you have any questions about the medicine..

  • Don't use nasal rinses or irrigation during an acute sinus infection, unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Rinsing may spread the infection to other areas in your sinuses.

  • Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed to you. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines. Never give aspirin to anyone under age 18 who is ill with a fever. It may cause severe liver damage.

  • Don't smoke. This can make symptoms worse.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider if any of these occur:

  • Facial pain or headache that gets worse

  • Stiff neck

  • Unusual drowsiness or confusion

  • Swelling of your forehead or eyelids

  • Symptoms don't go away in 10 days

  • Vision problems, such as blurred or double vision

  • Fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Seizure

  • Trouble breathing

  • Feeling dizzy or faint

  • Fingernails, skin or lips look blue, purple , or gray

Prevention

Here are steps you can take to help prevent an infection:

  • Keep good hand washing habits.

  • Don’t have close contact with people who have sore throats, colds, or other upper respiratory infections.

  • Don’t smoke, and stay away from secondhand smoke.

  • Stay up to date with of your vaccines.

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