/ Sinus Infection
Antibiotics For Sinus Infection

Antibiotics For Sinus Infection

When is nasal congestion more than just a stuffy nose?

A sinus infection, also referred to as sinusitis, is more than just having trouble breathing through your nose. It’s infection and inflammation of your sinus cavities. When this infection is caused by bacteria it's likely that you'll need antibiotics from a doctor to treat your sinus infection.

You have several sinus cavities located on either side of your nose and above and below your eyes, so there may be pain in various places throughout your face or an overall sinus headache.


What do you need to know about this miserable malady? Here’s a brief rundown about sinus infections, and when/how to get antibiotics for sinus infections.

Sinus Infection Causes

There are many different causes of sinus infections as they can be brought on by different types of germs. Treatment and whether or not you need antibiotics for your sinus infection depend on the cause. Let's go over the potential causes of sinus infections.

Cold or Flu

A preceding cold or flu are the most common causes of sinus infections. While sinus infections themselves are not contagious, the viruses causing them (usually cold or influenza) are contagious.

Allergens & Pollutants

Allergies can lead to sinus infections as they cause swelling in the sinus cavities and nasal passageways which prevents mucus from draining, again creating that hospitable environment for bacteria to flourish.

It’s important to note that allergies and sinus infections are two separate conditions, but often get confused for one another due to the similarity of their symptoms (i.e., facial pain, headache, pressure behind the eyes, runny nose, congestion, etc.).

If you are experiencing the onset of sinus infection symptoms, but didn’t just have a cold or case of the flu, then you may actually just have allergies.

Addressing your allergies is of particular importance if you want your sinus infection to clear up, as this will remove some inflammation from your sinuses and allow for proper drainage.

Exposure to air pollution and other pollutants is also a risk factor for sinus infections due to the inflammation that chemical irritants cause in the nasal passages.

Fungi or mold

In rare cases, fungi or mold can infect the sinuses as well. This is most common among people with compromised immune systems due to HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or other autoimmune disorders.

Natural disasters may also prompt the dispersal of mold spores into the air and lead to sinus infections for affected individuals in the area.

Weakened immune system

Sinus infections develop in some people but not in others, depending on health and environmental factors. A cold in a healthy individual will not usually turn into a sinus infection if proper care is taken. Having one sinus infection isn’t much of an issue, but recurring sinus infections (happening 2-4 times a year or more) are most likely a sign of having a compromised immune system.

If you think you have a weakened immune system, this could be caused by:

  • lack of sleep
  • poor dietary choices
  • stress
  • repeated rounds of antibiotics

You might try some home-remedies for sinus infections before taking antibiotics, or add more immune-boosting foods to your regular diet, such as garlic and ginger. If you suffer from recurring infections and don’t think you have a weakened immune system, the cause may be related to anatomical anomalies.

Anatomical abnormalities

Nasal polyps are small, benign growths that can develop on the nasal passages and sinus cavities due to:

  • chronic inflammation
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • infection

Since these growths are painless, most people do not even realize they have them. One indicator that you might have nasal polyps is if you suffer from chronic or recurring sinus infections. Nasal polyps obstruct airflow and interfere with mucus drainage, which can lead to a sinus infection.

A deviated septum is another abnormality that may be causing your sinus infections. The bones and cartilage between your nose are crooked or off-center with a deviated symptom, causing breathing problems. This leads to obstructed airflow and drainage interference. If you have chronic or recurring sinus infections caused by having a deviated septum, you may want to consider a surgical procedure known as septoplasty.

A septoplasty is a very low risk, outpatient procedure. Most people breathe normally again shortly after the procedure, though cartilage and tissues can take a year to recover entirely.


A bacterial sinus infection may develop after a virus such as the flu or cold. While you’re sick, your sinuses become blocked and therefore are unable to drain mucus. Mucus trapped in a warm, moist environment lays the breeding ground for harmful bacteria to develop and multiply, ultimately leading to a bacterial infection of the sinuses.

If built up mucus in the sinuses causes a bacterial sinus infection you will likely need antibiotics for your sinus infection.

Antibiotics for Sinus Infection

Since most sinus infections are caused by viruses or allergies, antibiotics are not typically prescribed. When a sinus infection lingers for more than a week however, a bacterial infection becomes a suspect and antibiotics may be prescribed. Commonly prescribed antibiotics for sinus infection include:

  • Amoxicillin (Amoxil)
  • Amoxicillin-clavulanate (Augmentin)
  • Cefaclor (Ceclor)
  • Loracarbef (Lorabid)
  • Clarithromycin (Biaxin)
  • Azithromycin (Zithromax)
  • Sulfamethoxazole (Gantanol)
  • Trimethoprim (Bactrim, Septra)
  • Ciprofloxacin (Cipro)

Always remember to take the full course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.

It is important to understand that despite feeling better, antibiotics should still be taken for the complete duration of prescribed time. The reason for this is that despite feeling better, there is a possibility that you are not fully recovered and some bacteria remain in the sinuses.

By discontinuing antibiotic use too early you allow these remaining bacteria to reproduce. However, due to their antibiotic exposure, it is likely that the new bacteria will be antibiotic resistant and lead to a much worse infection that is harder to treat. This is referred to as antibiotic-resistance and it is a concern within the medical community.

According to statistics, 2 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. This causes approximately 23,000 deaths a year. It is for this reason that patients are cautioned to continue taking their antibiotics for the remainder of the entire treatment guideline given by your doctor.

To get antibiotics for sinus infection online book an appointment with a PlushCare doctor and have your prescription electronically sent to the pharmacy of your choice, in minutes.

Sinus Infection Symptoms

Sinus infections share some symptoms with the problems that trigger them, but they also have some unique symptoms. Sinus infection symptoms include:

Are Sinus Infections Contagious?

If you have a sinus infection or are around someone who does, you're probably wondering if sinus infections are contagious. The answer is yes and no.

If a sinus infection is caused by a virus like the flu or a cold, then that illness may be contagious. However, sinus infections themselves are generally not contagious. For example, you and a family member could both have the same flu or cold, but only one of you ends up with a sinus infection afterwards. This is typically due to personal health, immune function and environmental factors.

You should always practice good hygiene like frequent hand-washing to avoid spreading any contagious diseases.

How to Relieve Sinus Pressure

There are many ways to relieve sinus pressure, sinus headaches, and other symptoms of sinus infections, including:

  • Oral decongestants (pseudoephedrine) and mucolytics (guaifenesin) can help drain a sinus infection.
  • Over the counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) can help relieve the pain of a sinus headache.

There are also some natural remedies you can try to relieve sinus pain:

  • Saline nasal rinses can help remove mucus.
  • Inhaling steam, such as during a hot shower, can help loosen mucus.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and healthy.
  • Spicy foods can help clear your sinuses.
  • Use a humidifier during dry months, since moist air is gentler on your sinuses.

If these remedies do not help your sinus infection, or your sinus infection gets worse over the course of a week, the cause may be bacterial, and you may need an antibiotic prescription for your sinus infection.

Book an appointment with a PlushCare doctor today and get prescribed antibiotics for sinus infection right away.

Read More About Antibiotics for Sinus Infection:

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Leah McCabe

Leah McCabe

Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.

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