Non-Prescription Medicines for Sinusitis
Medicines available without a prescription may help relieve pain and promote sinus drainage.
- Try pain relievers such as ASA, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen to relieve facial pain and headache. Do not give ASA to anyone under age 20 because of the risk of Reye syndrome.
- Try using a decongestant nasal spray or decongestant nose drops. Avoid using these products for more than 3 days in a row because it increases your risk of developing "rebound" nasal congestion. Frequent, prolonged use of a nasal decongestant can actually prolong your problems with congestion when you try to stop using the decongestant.
- Try taking an oral decongestant that contains ingredients like pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine. These are not expected to cause the "rebound" nasal congestion seen with decongestant nasal sprays. Oral decongestants can make you feel jittery and increase your blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, consult your pharmacist or physician before using oral decongestants.
- Try using a medicine that thins mucus and improves sinus drainage (mucolytic). Guaifenesin is a commonly used mucolytic.
Be careful with cough and cold medicines. They may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems, so check the label first. Do not give cough and cold medicines to a child younger than 6 unless your child’s doctor has told you to. If you do use these medicines, always follow the directions about how much to use based on age and weight.
Many doctors do not recommend using antihistamines unless your symptoms are related to having allergies. These medicines may dry out the mucous membranes in your nose and sinuses and slow the movement of the cilia (the tiny hairs that line the nose, sinuses, and the air passages inside the lungs and that remove irritants). This can make mucus thicker, adding to drainage problems. But other experts believe antihistamines may help treat sinusitis by reducing the amount of mucus that builds up in the sinus cavities. Don't give antihistamines to your child unless you've checked with the doctor first.
Adaptation Date: 7/13/2016
Adapted By: HealthLink BC
Adaptation Reviewed By: HealthLink BC
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