The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
In most cases, acute sinusitis will get better without the use of antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic if you have specific symptoms. It is important to take all antibiotics as prescribed, even when you are feeling better.
Common beta-lactams that may be used to treat bacterial sinusitis include: AmoxicillinAmoxicillin-clavulanateCefotaximeCeftriaxone
Possible side effects include: Allergic reactions, such as rash, itchy skin, difficulty breathingDiarrheaNausea, vomiting, stomach upsetDecreased effectiveness of oral contraceptives—talk with your doctor about another form of contraception while you are taking these medications
Common fluoroquinolones that may be used to treat bacterial sinusitis include: LevofloxacinMoxifloxacin
If you are taking certain antacids or sucralfate, this may decrease the levels of antibiotic. Talk to your doctor about ways to avoid this interaction.
Possible side effects include: Increased sensitivity to sunlightLightheadednessInflamed, torn tendonsNauseaDiarrheaAllergic reactions, such as rash, itchy skin, difficulty breathing
Doxycycline is a common tetracycline that can be used to treat acute bacterial sinusitis.
Always take these medications with a full glass of water. The use of tetracyclines during pregnancy, and for children 8 years of age or less, are not recommended.
Possible side effects include: Stomach cramps, burningDiarrheaNausea, vomitingTooth discoloration in children, including those whose mothers took tetracycline while pregnantIncreased sun sensitivityLightheadednessDecreased effectiveness of oral contraceptives—talk with your doctor about another form of contraception while you are taking these medications
Common names include: BeclomethasoneBudesonideDexamethasoneFlunisolideFluticasoneMometasoneTriamcinolone
Nasal corticosteroids are inhaled directly into your nose through a special inhaler. These drugs may help relieve congestion by decreasing swelling in the lining of the nose. It will likely take a few days of using nasal corticosteroids before you notice an effect; they must be used daily to sustain this effect. These drugs are often used with antibiotics.
Possible side effects include:
Dryness of irritation of your nose, including
nosebleedsStuffy noseSneezingChanges in the sense of smell or taste
If any of the following occurs while you are taking a nasal corticosteroid, call your doctor: Severe coughing, wheezing, or trouble breathingPainful sores or white or red patches inside your mouth or noseSwelling of the tongue or throatTrouble swallowingContinuous stinging or burning feeling in your nose
Common brand names include: Tylenol
Acetaminophen can be helpful in relieving some of the pain and discomfort associated with sinusitis. It’s also safe to give to children. Do not take a larger dose than is recommended by your doctor. Do not drink alcoholic beverages while you are taking acetaminophen.
Common brand names include: MotrinAdvil
Ibuprofen can also help relieve some of the pain associated with sinusitis. Because some people find ibuprofen to be very hard on the stomach, you should take this medication with food. Drinking alcoholic beverages while you are taking ibuprofen can increase your risk of stomach irritation.
On rare occasions, people have allergic reactions to ibuprofen. If you notice a new skin rash, difficulty breathing, or puffiness or swelling in your face or around your eyes, stop taking ibuprofen and immediately contact your doctor.
Decongestants have been popular choices in the past for acute sinusitis. However, certain professional medical groups such as the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), no longer recommend these medications. These recommendations are based the lack of evidence that they are helpful.
Talk to your doctor about medications that are safe for you.
Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions: Take the medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule. Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medication.Plan ahead for refills if you need them.Do not share your prescription medication with anyone.Medications can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor if you are taking more than one medication, including over-the-counter products and supplements.
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Sinusitis. American Academy of Otolaryngology website. Available at:
http://www.entnet.org/content/sinusitis. Accessed January 9, 2013.
Sinusitis overview. American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology website. Available at:
http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/sinusitis.aspx. Accessed January 9, 2013.
Slavin RG, Spector SL, et al. The diagnosis and management of sinusitis: A practice parameter update.
J Allergy Clin Immunol.
Vining EM. Evolution of medical management of chronic rhinosinusitis.
Ann Otol Rhinol Largngol Suppl.
Williamson IG, Rumsby K, Benge S, et al. Antibiotics and topical nasal steroid for treatment of acute maxillary sinusitis: A randomized controlled trial.
Last reviewed September 2016 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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