Sinus Infection – Medication, Types, Causes and Home Remedies

Sinusitis, also known as a sinus infection or rhinosinusitis. It is the  inflammation of the sinuses resulting in symptoms. Common signs and symptoms of sinus include thick nasal mucous, a plugged nose, and pain in the face.

One may also experience fever, headaches, poor sense of smell, sore throat, and cough, which often gets worse at nights. Serious complications are rare.

It is defined as acute rhinosinusitis (ARS) if it lasts less than 4 weeks, and as chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) if it lasts for more than 12 weeks.

Sinusitis is a common condition. It affects about between 10% and 30% of people each year in the United States and Europe. Women are more often  victims of this infection than men. Chronic sinusitis affects approximately 12.5% of people. Treatment of sinusitis in the United States results in more than 11 billion USD in costs.

What are the different types?

Sinus is classified chronologically into several categories:

  • Acute rhinosinusitis – A new infection that may last up to four weeks. This can be subdivided symptomatically into severe and non-severe ones. Sometimes these  may last up to 12 weeks.
  • Recurrent acute rhinosinusitis – Four or more separate episodes of acute sinusitis that occur within one year.
  • Subacute rhinosinusitis – An infection that lasts between 4 and 12 weeks. It represents a transition between acute and chronic infection.
  • Chronic rhinosinusitis – This occurs when the signs and symptoms last for more than 12 weeks.
  • Acute exacerbation of chronic rhinosinusitis – When the signs and symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis exacerbate.  However return to baseline after treatment.

The variant sinusitis has similar symptoms, and hence are difficult to distinguish.

Acute sinusitis is very common. Roughly ninety percent of adults have had sinusitis at some point in their life.

What causes Sinus?

Sinus-AllergyIn healthy people, sinus secretions are always moving and draining into the nose. However, the movement of mucus out of the sinuses is blocked by rhinosinusitis. This is  commonly known as sinusitis, or sinus inflammation.

When the blockage occurs, mucus fails to drain properly, increases in thickness and fills the sinus spaces. At the same time, oxygen levels in the affected sinuses are reduced.

The cilia (hair-like structures that filter the air in the sinuses) slow down their sweeping and cleaning. This  makes it even harder for mucus to drain.

There are multiple causes of sinus, depending on whether the sinus is chronic or acute.

Allergies and Chronic Sinusitis

Allergies, air quality, and anatomic variations in the nose and other factors contribute to the development of sinus inflammation.

People with allergies or allergic rhinitis have higher rates of sinusitis. It’s less common for  people without allergies. Constant exposure to allergens can thicken mucus and make your sinuses vulnerable to inflammation.

Some of the allergens triggering this are Dust mites, Fungal spores (mold) and Animal dander. Cockroaches, Grass, tree, and weed pollen are also  reasons.

Other pollutants like cigarette smoke and secondhand smoke, carbon monoxide, nitrous dioxide, formaldehyde, and sulfur dioxide, also trigger sinus.

Viral and Bacterial Sinus Infections

A sinus infection (acute sinusitis) can be viral or bacterial.  But it is usually triggered by a viral upper respiratory infection (such as a cold or flu).

Rhinovirus, influenza, and parainfluenza are the most common viruses that cause acute sinusitis.

In some cases, dental problems involving infections can also cause acute sinusitis. The roots of your upper back teeth are close to the maxillary sinus, and if they become infected, the infection can travel into your sinuses.

Some of the bacteria that cause a small percentage of acute sinusitis are Streptococcus pneumonia and Staphylococcus aureus. Haemophilus influenza, Moraxella catarrhal are also the important bacterias

These bacteria are normally present in the uppermost part of your throat.

Fungal Sinusitis

This is a rare sinusitis occurring when fungal spores (i.e., mold) are often present in the sinuses. As a matter of fact, we breathe these spores in and out all the time. The fungus is more likely to be present in the warm, moist environment of the sinuses.  It occurs when the immune system is damaged or depressed, or in people with nasal polyps.

Some of the most common fungi that cause sinusitis include Aspergillus species, Cryptococcus newforms, Candida species, Sporothrix Schenck, Alternaria species, Curvularia species.

Allergic fungal sinusitis is more common in southern than in northern states. Its symptoms are similar to viral and bacterial sinusitis.

Some common Symptoms of Sinus

Sinus headacheThere is no exhaustive list of factors that will trigger sinus attacks. However there are many medical and environmental factors, including the following:

  • Environmental toxins (such as cigarette smoking or passive smoking)
  • Anatomic abnormalities (a deviated septum or nasal polyps)
  • Tumours
  • Foreign virus bodies
  • Allergic rhinitis, asthma, or hay fever
  • Changes in temperature or air pressure (e.g., from swimming, diving, or flying)
  • Viral, bacterial, or fungal infection
  • A survey was conducted by  Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Association of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. It was found  the 3 most common acute and chronic sinusitis symptoms in adults are:
  • Nasal congestion, blockage, or stuffiness
  • Nasal discharge (which can be clear, yellow, green, or blood-tinged)
  • Facial pain pressure or fullness, which can be above, below, or behind the eyes

The symptoms of sinus infection in children are similar to symptoms in adults. Children with acute viral sinusitis may also have a cough as well as thick, yellow-green nasal discharge.

Treatment for Sinus Infection

In order to treat sinusitis and sinus infections medications are used. They are analgesics for pain, decongestants, saline nasal irrigation, and intranasal corticosteroids.

Since there is an acute pain,  a pain relief may be especially necessary for acute sinusitis. Oral over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Advil) can be effective in relieving pain.

Inhaled corticosteroids improve symptoms and can speed recovery in both acute and chronic sinusitis by reducing inflammation and swelling. These corticosteroids are available by prescription only, in metered-dose inhalers or spray pumps, such as fluticasone or Mometasone furoate.

Nasacort (triamcinolone acetonide) is available from pharmacies as an OTC nasal spray.  Oral steroids are sometimes prescribed for sinusitis.

Side effects from oral steroids include behavioral changes and increased appetite. They also cause high blood sugar and weight gain.

Home Remedies for Sinus Infection

Home remedies for SinusThough sinus requires medical treatment, there are some home remedies. These can be followed to alleviate the pain initially.

  • Nasal Irrigation

Cleaning the nasal cavity with a saline solution or salt water has been used for many years to treat chronic sinus and nasal disorders. Rinsing the nose and sinuses with salt water keeps your nasal passages moist. It  flushes out thick secretions like mucus, reduces swelling in the nasal passages. It  gets rid of infectious debris and allergens.

  • Saline Solutions for Sinus Infections

You can get concentrated saline solution (hypertonic) at pharmacies to use a neti pot or bulb syringe. Use a concentration of 2 to 3.5 percent hypertonic saline, 0.05 percent sodium hypochlorite, or Xylitol in water.

You can also make salt water at home with the following recipe:

Mix 3 heaped teaspoons of iodine-free pickling or canning salt with 1 rounded teaspoon of baking soda. Store the mixture for ongoing use. Each time you need to rinse your sinuses, add 1 teaspoon of the mixture to 1 cup (8 ounces) of lukewarm distilled, boiled, or filtered water. For children, use the ½ teaspoon in 4 ounces of water.

Except for Nasal irrigation there are a few other home remedies that you can keep in mind:


  • Drink plenty of fluids to thin out mucus.
  • Apply moist heat to your sinus areas by placing warm, wet towels, or gel packs against your face. Do this several times a day for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Take a hot shower and breathe in the steam to keep mucus loose and the nasal and sinus passages open. This can help relieve pressure. Or fill a sink or bowl with hot water, place a towel over your head to trap the steam, and breathe it in.
  • Use a humidifier to keep dry air in your home more humid. (But not too humid, since moist air can also grow bacteria and fungi.)
  • Avoid alcohol, smoke, and dry air. These conditions can dry out your sinuses and nasal passages and increase mucous membrane irritation.

Sinus can come across at various ages and can hit in multiple stages. As much as the home remedies are helpful to cure this, we suggest you visit a doctor and take proper prescription medication. Do not avoid any symptoms of Sinus as it can lead to a chronic pain.