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Medications for Sinusitis

This article can give you a general idea about each of the medicines listed below. Only the most general side effects are listed. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use medicine as recommended by your doctor. If you have questions about use or side effects, contact your doctor.

Prescription Medications

Antibiotics

Acute sinusitis usually gets better without antibiotics. The doctor may prescribe antibiotics for certain symptoms.

Beta-lactams

Common names are:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Amoxicillin-clavulanate
  • Cefotaxime
  • Ceftriaxone

Some problems may be:

  • Allergic reactions, such as rash, itchy skin, problems breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach upset
  • Decreased effectiveness of birth control pills

Fluoroquinolones

Common names are

  • Levofloxacin
  • Moxifloxacin

Some problems are:

  • Increased sensitivity to sunlight
  • Lightheadedness
  • Inflamed, torn tendons
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Allergic reactions, such as rash, itchy skin, problems breathing

Tetracyclines

Doxycycline often used to treat acute bacterial sinusitis.

Some problems are:

  • Stomach cramps, burning
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Tooth discoloration in children (including those whose mothers took tetracycline while pregnant)
  • Increased sun sensitivity
  • Lightheadedness
  • Decreased effectiveness of birth control pills

Other Prescription Medications

Nasal Corticosteroids

Common names are:

  • Beclomethasone
  • Budesonide
  • Dexamethasone
  • Flunisolide
  • Fluticasone
  • Mometasone
  • Triamcinolone

Nasal corticosteroids are inhaled into the nose. These medicines reduce swelling in the nose. This helps ease stuffiness.

Some problems may be:

  • Dryness or irritation of the nose, including nosebleeds
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Changes in sense of smell or taste

Oral Bacterial Lysate

This medicine may be used to treat sinus infections that keep coming back. It is used in adults.

Some problems may be:

  • Rash
  • Itchiness

Over-the-Counter Medications

Acetaminophen

A common brand name is Tylenol.

Acetaminophen can help ease pain and discomfort from sinusitis. Do not take a larger dose than advised by your doctor. Do not drink alcoholic beverages while taking acetaminophen.

Ibuprofen

Common names are:

  • Motrin
  • Advil

Ibuprofen can also help ease some pain from sinusitis. Ibuprofen can be hard on the stomach. To help prevent this, it should be taken with food. Drinking alcohol while taking ibuprofen raises the risk of stomach problems.

Decongestants

Decongestants were often used in the past for acute sinusitis. However, some doctors no longer advise them. There is not enough evidence that they are helpful.

REFERENCES:

Acute rhinosinusitis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/acute-rhinosinusitis-in-adults. Accessed November 15, 2021.

Chronic rhinosinusitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/chronic-rhinosinusitis. Accessed November 15, 2021.

Sinusitis. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: https://www.enthealth.org/conditions/sinusitis/. Accessed November 15, 2021.

Sinusitis overview. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. Available at: https://www.aaaai.org/Conditions-Treatments/allergies/sinusitis. Accessed November 15, 2021.

Last reviewed November 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 11/17/2021