How is Sinusitis Treated?

It is estimated that nearly 35 million people experience sinusitis every year. Sinusitis involves the sinuses, spaces in our noise that consist of tissue which produces mucus. This mucus moisturizes the nasal cavity as well as helps filter the air we inhale by removing dust and other microbes we breathe in. This prevents these pollutants and allergens from causing illness, protecting health and the body. But the sinuses can experience issues like sinusitis which occurs when the sinuses become inflamed and swollen. This prevents drainage, causing an accumulation of music and fluid which produces a number of unpleasant symptoms. Fortunately, there are effective ways that sinusitis is treated which provides relief and eases the sinuses back to health. 

What causes sinusitis?

There are four types of sinusitis: acute, subacute, chronic, and recurrent. These refer to the duration of sinusitis with acute lasting 2-4 weeks, subacute lasting 4-8 weeks, chronic lasting longer than 8 weeks, and recurrent describing experiencing sinusitis multiple times a year. 


Both children and adults can experience sinusitis. Common causes include the following: 

  • Cold: the common cold is a viral infection that impacts the upper respiratory tract. 
  • Allergies: another common cause of sinusitis is allergic rhinitis, or allergies. Allergies occur when the body’s immune system overreacts to a specific allergen that is typically harmless (pollen, animal dander, grass etc.). More than 50 million people navigate allergies every year. Exposure to allergens can lead to sinus infections or worsen symptoms of sinusitis. 
  • Nasal polyps: These are small growths in the sinuses that are usually  painless but can affect the tissue in the sinuses. Nasal polyps can occur as a result of chronic infection, immune sensitivities, or allergies. 
  • Deviated septum: the nasal septum is the thin wall that separates the right and left nostrils. It can be misaligned or on one side more than the other which is referred to as a deviated septum. This affects airflow through the nasal pathways and can contribute to sinusitis. 

Additional factors that can cause sinusitis include: blocked drainage ducts and autoimmune issues. Meanwhile, sinusitis in children can be caused by: using pacifiers, allergies, living in a smoky environment, colds and viruses, and drinking from a bottle while lying down. 

What are the symptoms of sinusitis?

Sinusitis is typically experienced similarly but can range from mild to more severe. Common sinusitis symptoms include the following: 

  • Congestion, stuffy nose
  • Runny nose, mucus may be thick and a clear, yellow or greenish color 
  • Pain or pressure around the forehead, nose, and cheeks
  • Cough
  • Earache, jaw ache, tooth pain 
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Bad Breath
  • Loss of smell
  • Sore throat

Duration and severity of symptoms can vary. It is important to know that sinusitis is treatable and symptoms can be effectively alleviated.  

What is the treatment for sinusitis?

There are a few ways sinusitis is treated. The common cold most often contributes to acute sinusitis which resolves in 7-10 days. Symptoms can be alleviated with the following types of over the counter medications: 

  • Decongestants: these medications are designed to reduce inflammation and swelling that produces congestion in the sinuses. Decongestants do this by narrowing blood vessels. They come in different forms including nasal sprays, liquids, and tablets.  
  • Intranasal steroids: this is another type of over the counter medication that reduces inflammation. Intranasal steroids can also reduce mucus production and work most effectively when used for over a week. 
  • Pain relievers: this includes ibuprofen and aspirin which can alleviate pain produced by a buildup of pressure in the sinuses. 

In addition to these over the counter medications, there are several self-managed strategies you can try at home including: 

  • Using a neti pot or other mechanism to drain the sinuses of thick mucus secretions. 
  • Inhaling warm water vapor from a bowl or pot with hot water. Another way to do this is taking a warm shower and breathing in the moist air. 
  • Staying hydrated by drinking lots of fluids which encourages mucus drainage. 
  • Applying warm compresses (towels for example) on the nose, cheeks, eyes etc. to alleviate facial pain. 

If symptoms do not respond to these strategies and/or last longer than 10 days, it is important to be assessed by your doctor. If your doctor identifies the cause as a bacterial sinus infection, they prescribe antibiotics. If you experience chronic and recurring sinusitis, your doctor may recommend surgical treatment options like endoscopic surgery which includes balloon sinuplasty.