Home remedies may help manage the symptoms of a sinus infection. Many sinus infections improve independently, but some bacterial cases may require antibiotics.

Read on to learn what you can do to support your healing from a sinus infection.

Sinusitis can be acute, subacute, or chronic. These classifications relate to the duration of symptoms.

Acute sinusitis typically lasts less than 4 weeks, subacute lasts 4–12 weeks, and chronic sinusitis can last for 12 weeks or longer.

What is the fastest way to get rid of a sinus infection?

Most sinus infections occur due to a viral infection or airborne irritant and typically get better on their own.

However, bacterial sinus infections can improve with a course of antibiotic treatment. You sould start feeling better within 3-4 days.

Adequate hydration is essential to overall good health. Drinking plenty of fluids allows the body to fight infections properly and aids recovery.

In the case of sinusitis, adequate hydration helps maintain the strength of the skin and mucous membranes within the sinuses, which can help reduce irritation, thin mucus, and prevent further infection.

Learn more about how much water adults should drink in a day here.

Most sinus infections resolve independently within 2–3 weeks. During this time, it is important to give the body ample opportunity to fight infection. Avoiding exertion and resting where possible may hasten recovery.

Nasal irrigation is a process often used to ease the symptoms of sinusitis. Research suggests using a neti pot with a saline solution can eliminate some symptoms of chronic sinusitis.

Follow the directions supplied with your specific neti pot. Here are general directions:

  1. Fill the pot with the saline solution.
  2. Incline your head over the sink at a 45-degree angle.
  3. Insert the spout of the pot into your top nostril. Carefully pour the saline solution down that nostril.
  4. Repeat the process with the other nostril.

Be careful to sanitize your neti pot after every use, and only use distilled water. Water straight from the sink may have contaminants, like bacteria or parasites, which could make your condition worse.

Other forms of nasal irrigators are available in different shapes and sizes and provide the same benefits.

Learn more about using neti pots here.

Keeping your sinuses hydrated can help relieve pressure. Here are some tips for hydrated sinuses:

  • At night, sleep with a humidifier in your bedroom to help relieve nighttime nasal blockages.
  • During the day and before bed, use natural saline nasal sprays.
  • Take hot showers, or use steam bowls to help ease congestion and swelling.

Learn more about steam inhalation here.

Adding natural antibacterial foods like garlic, ginger, and honey to your meals may help bolster the body’s infection-fighting processes.

Some foods also have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce swelling from sinus infections. These include berries, green leafy vegetables, and oily fish.

However, research into the direct application of diet changes for symptom relief in sinus infection is minimal, and support is typically anecdotal.

Learn more about natural antibiotics here.

Some claim that topical application and inhalation of essential oils can help alleviate symptoms of sinus congestion. For example, one in vitro tissue study suggested that 1,8-cineole, the main component of eucalyptus oil, may have an anti-inflammatory effect on human tissues. Further research is necessary to assess the efficacy of these oils in human cases.

To alleviate sinus or upper respiratory infections, people often use oil externally on the temples or chest or inhale via a diffuser when the oil is added to boiling water. Make sure you only use food-grade essential oils. Rub one drop of each oil on the roof of your mouth, then drink a glass of water.

It is important only to use essential oils as directed, as inhalation can cause airway irritation and potentially worsen symptoms.

Learn more about using essential oils to treat sinus congestion here.

Applying warm compresses may help with general pain from sinus congestion.

This will not treat the infection itself, but placing a warm, damp towel around the nose, cheeks, and eyes can help promote drainage of nasal secretions, providing relief from symptoms.

If you’re not finding relief from home remedies, ask your pharmacist to recommend an OTC treatment.

OTC decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), may relieve sinusitis symptoms by narrowing the blood vessels. This helps reduce inflammation and swelling. It may improve the flow of drainage from the sinuses.

If you have high blood pressure, consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking pseudoephedrine. There’s a line of cold and sinus medications for people with high blood pressure called Coricidin HBP.

However, these medications are not suitable for children. People should only take decongestants as explicitly recommended.

Other OTC medications for managing generalized sinus pain include:

If an allergic reaction causes nasal congestion, antihistamines may help block inflammation.

Always follow your pharmacist’s advice and the guidelines on the package when taking OTC medications.

Learn more about OTC antihistamines here.

Doctors may prescribe antibiotics in cases of chronic sinusitis or if your sinus infection is bacterial. Your primary care provider will determine whether bacteria or a virus causes your sinus infection. They’ll do this by:

  • asking about your symptoms
  • carrying out a physical examination
  • swabbing the inside of your nose (not routinely done)

Amoxicillin (Amoxil) is a common prescription drug for acute sinus infections. Amoxicillin-clavulanate (Augmentin) is often prescribed for a bacterial sinus infection. However, this medication is not suitable for people with a penicillin allergy, in which case, doctors will prescribe a suitable alternative.

Depending on the type of antibiotic, a person may need to take them for up to three weeks. It’s important to take antibiotics as long as your doctor prescribes them. Don’t stop taking them early, even if your symptoms improve as this can result in antibiotic resistance.

Consult your doctor if you or someone else has:

  • a persistent temperature higher than 100.4°F (38°C)
  • symptoms that have lasted for more than 10 days
  • symptoms that are getting worse
  • symptoms that aren’t eased by OTC medication
  • several sinus infections over the past year

If you have a sinus infection for eight weeks or more or have more than four sinus infections per year, you may have chronic sinusitis. Common causes of chronic sinusitis are:

A sinus infection occurs when the tissue in the sinuses swells up. This leads to a buildup of mucus, pain, and discomfort.

The sinuses are the air-filled pockets in the bones of the face that form the top part of the respiratory tract. These pockets run from the nose into the throat.

Factors that may stop the sinuses from draining include:

Viruses cause 9 out of 10 sinus infections in adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To reduce your risk for sinus infection:

  • Wash your hands often, especially after you’ve been in crowded places like public transportation.
  • Keep up to date with recommended immunizations.
  • Limit exposure to people with colds or other upper respiratory infections, if possible.
  • Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Use a clean humidifier to keep the air moist in your home.
  • Get plenty of rest if you have a cold to reduce your risk for complications like sinusitis.

Sinus infections are very common. Symptoms normally go away on their own within 10 days. OTC medications and natural remedies may help relieve your symptoms. If your symptoms last more than 10 days, talk with your doctor.

Read this article in Spanish.