Sinusitis is typically treated first with medication. Treatment with antibiotics or topical nasal steroid sprays is successful for many sinusitis sufferers as is inhaling steam and using saline nasal sprays or drops. In fact, a majority of chronic sinusitis sufferers respond well to medications.

Types of Sinusitis

When the lining of the nasal cavities gets inflamed from a viral infection like a cold, it swells. The swelling can block the normal drainage of fluid from the sinuses into the nose and throat. If the fluid cannot drain and builds up over time, bacteria or fungi (plural of fungus) may start to grow in it. These bacterial or fungal infections can cause more swelling and pain. They are more likely to last longer, get worse with time and become chronic.

There are three kinds of sinusitis, and treatment varies depending on which kind of sinus condition you suffer from:

  1. Viral Sinusitis
    Viral sinus infections usually go away on their own within 10 to 14 days. Antibiotics don't work for viral infections. But there are some things you can do at home to help relieve your symptoms like inhaling steam, using saline nasal sprays or decongestants for three to four days. Home treatments may also help drain mucus from the sinuses and prevent a more serious bacterial or fungal infection.
  2. Bacterial Sinusitis
    Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics or steroid medications. You will probably feel better in a few days, but some symptoms may last for several weeks. You may need to take the medicine for a longer time if you have chronic sinusitis.
  3. Fungal Sinusitis
    If you have a fungal infection—which is not common—antibiotics won't clear up your sinusitis. With this type of infection, you may need treatment with antifungal medicines, steroid medicines, or surgery.

If you have taken antibiotics and other medicines for a long time but still have sinusitis symptoms, you may need surgery to open the sinuses. You may also need surgery if the infection is likely to spread or if you have other problems, such as a growth (polyp) blocking the nasal passage or sinus opening.

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