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  • Writer's pictureDr. Koralla Raja Meghanadh

Sinusitis Treatment

Updated: May 20

Sinusitis, commonly referred to as a sinus infection, progresses through various stages and can persist in an individual for decades, manifesting with intermittent or persistent symptoms. The infection tends to flare up whenever the immune system is compromised, or an allergy is triggered, creating a sense of recurrent infection for the patient.


Sinusitis Treatment

While some instances of sinusitis resolve naturally during the initial stages (especially in the acute sinusitis stage), others may necessitate professional intervention. This article delves into the different facets of sinusitis treatment, encompassing home remedies, antibiotics, and potential surgical interventions.


Sinusitis Causes

Before diving into treatment options, it’s essential to understand the causes of sinusitis.


Sinusitis occurs when the walls (mucosa) lining the sinus cavities become inflamed or swollen. These air-filled spaces in the skull have drainage pathways. Blockages in these pathways can lead to the accumulation of fluids, creating an environment conducive to bacterial and fungal growth. This, in turn, can result in an infection of the sinus mucus lining, causing inflammation and the development of sinusitis.


Sinusitis frequently results from infections impacting the nose and its neighbouring structures, such as the common cold. This is because the continuous lining of mucus in the sinuses also extends into the nose.


Sinusitis is always triggered in people with any or multiple of the three conditions.

  1. Allergy

  2. Anomalies in the sinus drainage pathway

  3. Lesser immunity against bacteria by birth


Can Sinusitis Heal on its Own?

Sinusitis often gets better on its own, especially in the early stages, known as the acute stage. During the first 15 days, when symptoms are severe, there’s a good chance the infection can heal without medical intervention. However, if the infection progresses to the subacute sinusitis stage, the likelihood of self-healing decreases, although the number and intensity of the symptoms decrease, and medical intervention may be necessary.


However, medical attention is advisable, even in the early stages. The amount of medication required in the early stages is less. This is because untreated sinusitis can potentially lead to complications and progress to more severe stages that would need more medication.


Consulting with a doctor allows for proper diagnosis, management of symptoms, and, if necessary, intervention to prevent the condition from worsening or causing complications.


Treatment for Sinus Infection

The treatment for sinusitis varies based on individual factors such as

  1. type of sinus infection – bacterial or fungal infection or both

  2. stage of sinusitis

  3. severity of symptoms

  4. underlying causes

  5. complications


ENT doctors carefully evaluate each patient’s condition, choosing medications or surgical interventions based on specific characteristics. Generally, doctors opt for antibiotic treatment as the primary approach for sinusitis.

To know in detail how treatment changes for each stage of sinusitis.

Antibiotics for sinusitis treatment

Antibiotics are prescribed for sinus infections. These medications help eliminate the bacteria causing the infection and reduce inflammation. The type of antibiotics prescribed depends on the bacteria present in the sinuses, whether it’s gram-positive or gram-negative. The type of bacteria depends on the stage of sinusitis and generally wouldn’t require any special diagnosis to determine it.


When it comes to the duration of the antibiotic course, depending on the stage of sinusitis and its severity, it can range from 2 to 6 weeks. Sometimes, it can even go up to 6 months.


As a healthcare professional prescribes, completing the entire course of antibiotics is crucial to ensure the infection is completely eradicated.


Antifungal for sinusitis treatment

Antifungal medications are used when a fungus develops in the sinuses. The medication depends on the type of infection. There are three types of fungal infections.

  1. Non-invasive – fungus remains inside the sinuses

  2. Invasive – fungus spreads into the tissues around the sinuses

  3. Fulminant invasive – fungus spreads quickly to the tissues and blood vessels

Antifungals are the primary treatment option for treating invasive fungal sinusitis. These antifungals are given orally. The treatment will use not-so-strong antifungals but could be prescribed for years.

While in non-invasive cases, it is not the primary treatment, it may complement surgical interventions. It is important to understand that antifungals cannot reach the inner components of the sinus to kill the fungus, so surgical intervention to drain the fluids is required. But, in many cases, non-invasive and invasive can coexist, requiring a tailored treatment that targets both types of fungal sinus infections.


In fulminant invasive, powerful antifungals are used through IV along with multiple surgeries to remove the infected tissues.

To know more about antifungals and treatment for fulminant invasive you can refer to the below article.


Other supportive medication

In addition to antibiotics and antifungals, the doctor may also prescribe supportive medications. If there is an allergy, antiallergic medications will be recommended. Furthermore, decongestants such as xylometazoline and oxymetazoline (Otrivin nasal drops) may also be included in the treatment plan.


Sinus surgery

In most cases, sinus surgery is not the initial course of action for sinusitis treatment. However, there are specific situations where sinus surgery becomes necessary, such as recurring sinusitis, complications, fungal sinusitis, non-invasive fungal sinusitis, and fulminant fungal sinusitis. Moreover, if the sinus infection doesn’t subside even after completing an entire course of medical treatment, a doctor might recommend sinus surgery.


To know more about when sinus surgery is required, read our article


Types of sinus surgery:

  1. Traditional Open Sinus Surgery

    1. This approach involves larger incisions and removal of the sinus lining.

    2. The surgery has a success rate of 10%.

    3. Its not in practice

  2. Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS)

    1. FESS utilizes an endoscope to visualize and treat the sinuses.

    2. It has a success rate of 30%.

    3. FESS operates only on 4 to 5 sinuses out of 40 sinuses.

    4. FESS is the most popular among the three, and the word can be misused.

  3. Full House FESS or TFSE (Total Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery)

    1. TFSE is an advanced technique that surpasses basic FESS by opening all sinuses in the head.

    2. This approach aims to provide long-lasting relief from sinusitis, boasting a success rate of up to 90%.

    3. Additionally, with advanced equipment and technology, like navigation systems, debriders, and EBS, the success rate of TFSE surgery can be 99.9%.


To learn more about sinus surgery, check the article below.


To effectively address sinusitis, it is crucial to consider the stage of the condition. Early intervention yields better results, reducing the need for extensive antibiotic courses or surgical procedures. Moreover, combining home remedies and medical treatments can significantly improve outcomes.


Home remedies for sinusitis treatment

Our body can fight the infection with good immunity, so adding supportive home remedies to sinusitis treatment can provide relief and boost the healing process.

  1. Steam Inhalation

  2. Boosting Immunity

  3. Engaging in small but multiple daily workouts

  4. staying hydrated

  5. Ensuring Sufficient Sleep


Learn how to implement and how these home remedies work in detail.


When should I see an ENT for sinus problems?

We should see an ENT for sinus problems ASAP. Although many cases of sinusitis can resolve on their own, it is better to seek medical attention and get antibiotics, as the course of the symptoms cannot be predicted. It is always good to add home remedies as the recovery will be faster and easier.


The earlier you start the treatment, fewer antibiotics are required, less probability of complications and the probability of requiring surgery is reduced.


Note: Only untreated sinusitis can lead to complications. Sinusitis that is being treated will most likely not have complications.


Measures to prevent sinusitis

Preventive measures play a vital role in managing sinusitis and reducing the risk of recurrence. These include:

  1. Addressing common colds promptly and effectively can help prevent sinusitis.

  2. Allergies can contribute to sinusitis, so it’s essential to identify and manage allergens.

  3. Exposure to extreme cold or dusty environments can irritate the nasal passages and increase the risk of sinusitis. So limit exposure to such conditions and take appropriate precautions.

  4. Reduce stress as it can contribute to various health issues, including sinusitis.

  5. A strong immune system can play a crucial role in preventing sinus infections. So, always try to have healthy habits like drinking water properly and having adequate sleep.



Dealing with sinusitis can range from being a bothersome and uncomfortable experience to going completely unnoticed. However, regardless of the severity, it’s crucial to address the condition, as there’s always a possibility of complications.


Effective treatment and preventive measures play a pivotal role in providing relief and minimizing the risk of recurrent infections. Seeking guidance from a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan based on the unique characteristics of sinusitis is essential. By combining medical interventions with home remedies and proactive strategies, individuals can proactively manage their sinus health, fostering a better quality of life.

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