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Acute Bacterial Rhinosinusitis


Acute bacterial rhinosinusitis (ABRS) is a bacterial sinus infection. It commonly begins as a virus, often as a common cold. Viruses usually last 7 to 10 days and do not need treatment. Sometimes, bacteria begin to grow after you have a viral sinus infection leading to ABRS. The symptoms of ABRS include a runny nose with yellow or green mucus, fever, and pain or pressure in your face.



You may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics fight or prevent a bacterial infection.

  • Decongestants help reduce swelling and drain mucus in the nose and sinuses. They may help you breathe normally.

  • Antihistamines help dry mucus in the nose and relieve sneezing.

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Follow up if your symptoms are worse or not better after 3 days of treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Self-care for acute bacterial rhinosinusitis:

  • Rinse your sinuses. Use a sinus rinse device to rinse your nasal passages with a saline (salt water) solution. This will help thin the mucus in your nose and rinse away pollen and dirt. It will also help reduce swelling so you can breathe normally. Ask your how often to do this.

  • Breathe in steam. Heat a bowl of water until you see steam. Lean over the bowl and make a tent over your head with a large towel. Breathe deeply for about 20 minutes. Be careful not to get too close to the steam or burn yourself. Do this 3 times a day. You can also breathe deeply when you take a hot shower.

  • Sleep with your head elevated. Place an extra pillow under your head before you go to sleep to help your sinuses drain.

  • Drink liquids as directed. Ask your healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Liquids will thin the mucus in your nose and help it drain. Avoid drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine.

  • Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking will make your symptoms worse. Ask for information if you need help quitting.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms are worse or do not improve after 3 days of treatment.

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your eye and eyelid are red, swollen, and painful.

  • You cannot open your eye.

  • You have double vision or you cannot see.

  • Your eyeball bulges out or you cannot move your eye.

  • You are more sleepy than normal or you notice changes in your ability to think, move, or talk.

  • You have a stiff neck, a fever, or a bad headache.

  • You have swelling of your forehead or scalp.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.