How to Get Rid of a Sinus Infection
Sinus infection symptoms are definitely harder to deal with than those of the common cold, and unfortunately, they’re also hard to get rid of. If you’re suffering from a sinus infection right now, in most cases you shouldn’t worry.
About 85-90% of sinus infections are viral, meaning they go away on their own and without treatment. While they take longer to heal than the flu or common cold, they are generally not contagious, so you won’t have to worry about passing your infection on to loved ones.
Viral vs. Bacterial Sinus Infections
Signs of a sinus infection include facial pain the sinuses, congestion, headache or sometimes fever. These symptoms are the same whether your infection is viral or bacterial. So why does it matter which one you have? Treatment. Bacterial infections can be treated by antibiotics, while viral infections cannot.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to know what type of infection you have. In general, if your symptoms start improving after a week, your infection is most likely viral and will go away on its own.
If at any point during the second week your infection seemed to get worse rather than better, you most likely have a bacterial sinus infection and may want to contact a doctor to discuss antibiotics. The sinuses in your face are difficult to reach, which is why sinus infections last longer than colds. Once taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection, you should feel your symptoms improving in 2-3 days.
How to remedy a sinus infection
Since most sinus infections are viral, antibiotics will not help your infection to heal any faster. The best thing you can do is treat the symptoms and maintain healthy habits to promote a speedy recovery.
Some natural remedies for sinus infection include:
- Rest - Rest is critical to help your body heal from any infection. Unfortunately, facial pain, congestion and trouble breathing can make sleeping difficult with a sinus infection. Prop up your head with extra pillows to allow for mucus drainage, and sleep next to a humidifier to keep your nasal passages moist.
Try using a saline nasal solution just before bed as well. If these methods aren’t enough to help you breath, taking an antihistamine before bed will ease congestion. Whatever natural treatment or OTC medication you take to help you sleep more deeply will help promote a quicker recovery.
Moisture - Keep the nasal passages moist in order to allow for a smoother passage of mucus through your nasal passages. Aside from keeping your environment moist with a humidifier, be sure to drink plenty of fluids, at least 8 glasses per day. As a general rule of thumb, your urine should be mostly clear or pale yellow if you’re drinking enough water.
Essential oils - Antimicrobial, antiviral and antibacterial essential oils, particularly eucalyptus oil, may help to fight infection or break up mucus. You can even find eucalyptus oil as an active ingredient in the OTC treatment, Vicks VapoRub. To use eucalyptus oil, find the best quality you can to ensure it is safe for consumption. Massage one drop into the roof of your mouth, or place a few drops into a steaming pot of water and inhale. You might also place a couple drops in a hot shower and inhale the steam that way. The steam will help break up congestion.
Neti pot - Nasal irrigation using a neti pot and saline solution is a highly effective way to treat sinus infection symptoms, even in cases of chronic sinusitis. Follow the instructions given on your neti pot, and make sure to only use pure, distilled water. Lay your head back at a 45 degree angle over your sink, and gently tip the spout of the neti pot with saline solution into your nostril, repeating the process on the other side.
Raw garlic - Eating raw garlic has been a treatment for infections used for centuries. The chemical component allicin is an antiviral compound activated by crushing and chewing raw garlic. This compound is exactly what you want to help heal your infection. If raw garlic is too hard for you to stomach, crush and mince a few cloves and eat it with a spoonful of honey.
If your sinus infection has gone on to be subacute or chronic despite natural or OTC treatment and rest, be sure to contact a doctor. Your doctor will prescribe a treatment plan or refer you to an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist, to determine the next steps to take. Most sinus infections will go away on their own, but those that don’t should not be ignored.
PlushCare doctors are available on call for phone or video appointments 24/7, allowing you to speak with a doctor and get treatment for your sinus infection without having to visit a doctor’s office or urgent care center. Call (800) 221-5140 or book an appointment online.