Home care can help open the sinuses and alleviate their dryness. Drink plenty of water and hydrating beverages such as hot tea.
Inhale steam two to four times per day by leaning over a bowl of hot water (not while the water is on the stove) or using a steam vaporizer. Inhale the steam for about 10 minutes. Taking a hot, steamy shower may also work. Mentholated preparations, such as Vicks Vapo-Rub, can be added to the water or vaporizer to aid in opening the passageways.
Expectorants are drugs that help expel mucus from the lungs and respiratory passages. They help t thin mucous secretions, enhancing drainage from the sinuses. The most common is guaifenesin (contained in Robitussin and Mucinex, for example).
Over- the-counter (OTC) liquid cough medications or prescription tablets can also combine decongestants and cough suppressants to reduce symptoms as well as to eliminate the need for the use of many medications. Read label ingredients to find the right combination of ingredients or ask the pharmacist for help.
Pain medication such as ibuprofen (Motrin and Advil are examples), aspirin, and naproxen (Aleve) can reduce pain and inflammation. These medications help to open the airways by reducing swelling. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used for pain and fever but does not help with the inflammation.
The main goals in treating a sinus infection or sinusitis involve reducing the swelling or inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses, eliminating the infection, promoting drainage from the sinuses, and maintaining open sinuses.
Blood cells and lining cells of the mucosa in the sinuses can normally fight off foreign invaders. However, when overwhelmed by viruses and bacteria, coupled with a depressed immune system or over-reactivity to allergens, the result is the inflammation associated with sinusitis. With appropriate therapy, a short-lived infection can be treated effectively.
Because foreign substances trigger numerous reactions, many treatments are available that can treat the symptoms of inflammation.
Decongestants help reduce airway obstruction and are important in the initial treatment to alleviate symptoms.
Both nasal and oral decongestants have side effects, including general stimulation causing increased heart rate and blood pressure, insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, tremor, dry mouth, blurry vision, and headache. They may also cause an inability to urinate. Therefore, persons with a history of cardiac disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, or urinary problems (especially prostate disorders) should consult a physician before using decongestants.
In addition, combining decongestants with other over-the-counter or prescribed medicines with similar side effects may cause dangerous complications.
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