WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Sinusitis is inflammation or infection of your sinuses. It is most often caused by a virus. Acute sinusitis may last up to 12 weeks. Chronic sinusitis lasts longer than 12 weeks. Recurrent sinusitis is when you have 3 or more episodes of sinusitis in 1 year.
You may need any of the following:
- Decongestants relieve nasal and sinus congestion.
- 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.
- NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or 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.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your primary healthcare provider (PHP) 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.
Manage your symptoms:
- Drink liquids as directed. Ask your PHP how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Liquids will help loosen and drain the mucus in your sinuses.
- 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.
- 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 how often to do this.
- Use heat on your sinuses to decrease pain. Apply heat for 15 to 20 minutes every hour for as many days as directed.
- Sleep with your head elevated. Place an extra pillow under your head before you go to sleep to help your sinuses drain.
- Do not smoke and avoid secondhand smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask for information about how to stop smoking if you need help.
Prevent the spread of germs that cause sinusitis:
Wash your hands often with soap and water. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom, change a child's diaper, or sneeze. Wash your hands before you prepare or eat food.
Follow up with your PHP as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Contact your PHP if:
- Your symptoms get worse after 5 to 7 days.
- Your symptoms do not go away after 10 days.
- You have nausea and vomiting.
- Your nose is bleeding.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have vision changes, such as double vision.
- You are confused or cannot think clearly.
- You have a headache and stiff neck.
- You have trouble breathing.
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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.