Sinusitis—inflammation of one or more sinuses—can be acute (not lasting longer than 30 days) or chronic (lasting longer than 90 days). Acute sinusitis can be the result of a viral infection, although bacteria or fungi can cause sinus infections too. Most people who get sinusitis get it only occasionally, but sinusitis four or more times a year is recurrent sinusitis. If you experience symptoms of a sinus infection, contact your doctor or visit an urgent care clinic for an evaluation and treatment. If you need antibiotics or other medication to clear the infection, the sooner you begin taking it the better, as sinusitis and sinus infections can sometimes cause serious complications. Sinusitis and Sinus Infection Treatment Treatment for sinusitis depends on the cause. Healthcare professionals prescribe antibiotics to treat sinusitis caused by bacteria and antifungals to treat fungal sinus infections. Unfortunately, there are no antiviral medicines for viral sinus infections. Research shows many acute sinus infections are viral and do not need antibiotics; most of them clear up on their own. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics if you have had thick, green or yellow discharge and/or pain or pressure around the sinuses for 10 days or longer. Antibiotics also may be prescribed if you had sinusitis symptoms for a shorter period, but then they returned; this is one sign of a secondary infection, oftentimes due to bacteria. However, if your symptoms are improving, your doctor may prefer a practice called ‘watchful waiting.’ This means conservative treatment of sinusitis symptoms while monitoring your progress. If the infection seems to worsen, you may get antibiotics, but in most cases the infection will clear up on its own. Sinus infection medicine and other treatments for symptoms may include: Decongestant sprays, to be used for only a few days. These over-the-counter sprays can relieve inflammation and make it easier to breathe, but using them for too long can cause rebound inflammation. Corticosteroid nasal sprays, which reduce swelling. These sprays are also available at pharmacies over the counter. Nasal saline washes, which are saline (salt water) rinses of your nasal passages to help reduce swelling and pain. Follow the directions on the label. Oral decongestants, which are over-the-counter medicines that may help reduce swelling Treatment for chronic sinusitis includes relieving symptoms and treating the underlying cause of inflammation, if known. In addition to the medicines above, treatment may include medicines to manage allergies or surgery to remove blockages or correct deformities in the nasal passage that can contribute to mucus backup. Chronic sinusitis complicated by a confirmed bacterial infection will likely require a course of antibiotics. Home remedies that may also help ease the symptoms of all types of sinusitis include: Using a vaporizer or humidifier to add moisture into the air. Alternately, you can take a hot shower to breathe in the steam or place a bowl of hot water on the table and breathe in the vapor. Applying warm compresses to your face to help relieve the pain around your cheeks, forehead and nose Drinking extra fluids to help thin the mucus Raising the head of your bed so you’re not lying flat, which will help the sinuses drain Sinus Infection Complications: Why You Should See Your Doctor Sinus infections are common and most go away on their own; however, an untreated sinus infection could lead to rare but serious complications. If you suspect you have a sinus infection, speak with your doctor so you can determine if you need treatment or watchful waiting. Some of the rare but serious complications associated with sinus infections and sinusitis include: Spread of infection: Although not common, a sinus infection could spread to the bone or skin. Meningitis: Because your sinuses are so close to your brain, swelling or inflammation can spread to the meninges, which cover your brain and spinal cord. Facial pain and extreme tenderness Brain abscess Loss of smell Vision difficulties Mucocele: A fluid-filled cyst that can form in the sinus If you have sinusitis and you do not see any improvement with treatment, tell your doctor as soon as possible. If you have an infection, you may need a different antibiotic or treatment plan to eliminate the infection. If your sinusitis has other causes, such as allergies, you may also need to change the treatment.