Possible medical treatments for a sinus infection include antibiotics, nasal sprays, oral steroids, and antifungal medications. Examples of home remedies include nasal irrigation, steam inhalation, and over-the-counter pain relief medications.

The sinuses are air-filled cavities that surround the nose. The ethmoid sinuses are between the eyes, and the sphenoids are in the middle of the head. The maxillary (cheek) and frontal (forehead) sinuses are often impacted by sinusitis. A sinus infection occurs when excess mucus blocks the sinuses.

When the sinuses are clear, mucus drains easily from the nose, clearing out dirt and bacteria. A sinus infection occurs when excess mucus builds up in the sinuses, allowing viruses, bacteria, or fungi to grow more easily in this moist, stagnant environment. It can also cause a thickening of the sinus lining.

Sinus infections can cause symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, pain or pressure in the face, and a sore throat. People may also refer to a sinus infection as sinusitis.

In this article, learn how to get rid of a sinus infection with home remedies or medical treatment.

A person blowing their nose into a tissueShare on Pinterest
LaylaBird/Getty Images

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), people can begin treating symptoms of a sinus infection with home remedies. If it is a viral infection, a sinus infection will usually resolve within 2 weeks.

The ACAAI recommends people only try treating a sinus infection using antibiotics if symptoms persist beyond 7–10 days to help prevent antibiotic resistance. People may find relief from sinus infection symptoms with the following home remedies.

Over-the-counter pain relief medications

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication may help relieve sinus infection symptoms. These medications may include:

  • aspirin, only for people over the age of 18 years
  • acetaminophen, such as Tylenol
  • ibuprofen, such as Advil or Motrin

OTC pain relievers may help ease symptoms such as localized pain, fever, and headaches.

Nasal sprays

People can use OTC decongestant nasal sprays on a short-term basis — for no longer than 3 to 4 days. Some nasal sprays, including steroid nasal sprays and saline, are also available OTC and are suitable for longer-term use. Nasal sprays may help reduce swelling in the nasal passages and allow mucus to drain from the sinuses.

Nasal irrigation

Nasal irrigation may help relieve symptoms of a sinus infection. People can use a neti pot, which is a small container with a spout, or a rinse bottle for nasal irrigation. However, it is essential that people only use distilled or sterile water for irrigation and thoroughly clean the device before and after use to prevent the reintroduction of germs.

Learn more about using Neti pots here.

Steam inhalation

Although there is not enough evidence to show that steam inhalation is an effective treatment for a sinus infection, some people may find that it helps relieve symptoms.


People can try to get plenty of rest when they have a sinus infection. This will help the body recover and allow it to spend its energy fighting the infection.

Staying at home and resting can also help prevent spreading the infection to other people.


Drinking plenty of clear fluids will help the body stay hydrated during a sinus infection. People can aim to drink several glasses of water each day.

Warm compresses

Applying a warm compress to the face may help ease pain and relieve pressure from the blocked sinuses.

To make a warm compress, people can soak a clean facecloth in hot water, wring it out, and place it on the affected areas of the face, such as the nose and forehead.


Antihistamines help treat inflammation from an allergic reaction. This means they may be effective in clearing similar symptoms in a sinus infection, such as reducing swelling in the nasal passages and sinuses.

Medical treatments for sinus infections work to unblock and drain the sinuses if home remedies have not been effective. Options include:

  • Antibiotics: Persistent bacterial sinus infections may require antibiotics.
  • Prescription nasal sprays: If OTC treatments are ineffective, a prescription nasal spray may help reduce swelling in the nasal passages. This allows mucus to drain more easily from the sinuses.
  • Oral steroids: In severe or chronic cases of sinusitis, a doctor may prescribe oral steroids to treat the infection and its symptoms.
  • Surgery: If a sinus infection does not respond to medication or other treatments, or if the infection has spread, a person may need surgery to clear the blocked sinuses and allow normal mucus drainage.
  • Antifungal medications: If a fungal infection is causing sinusitis, a doctor may prescribe antifungal medication. Surgery may also be necessary.

It is not always possible to prevent coming into contact with infectious particles. However, people can reduce their risk of infections by:

  • practicing good general hygiene, including regular hand washing
  • avoiding busy, poorly ventilated spaces, and wearing masks when in them
  • keeping the nasal passages clear and free of foreign objects
  • eating a balanced diet and practicing healthy lifestyle habits to support immune function
  • managing seasonal allergies with antihistamines and other methods

People should contact their doctor if they have:

  • a sinus infection for more than 10 days
  • symptoms that worsen after a period of improvement
  • several sinus infections in a year
  • any severe symptoms, such as severe facial pain, headaches, or vision changes
  • fever lasting more than 3–4 days

Children under 3 months old with a sinus infection should see a doctor immediately. Any child with a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or above should also see a doctor. However, sinus infections in infants are very rare.

Below are frequently asked questions relating to sinus infection management.

How do I get rid of a sinus infection asap?

Resting, staying hydrated, and taking OTC and prescription medications (where applicable) are the most reliable ways of treating a sinus infection.

How long does it take for a sinus infection to go away?

The duration of an infection depends on its cause, the treatments used, and a person’s overall health. Many viral infections will resolve within 2 weeks.

Can you flush out a sinus infection?

Rinsing the nasal passages can help to reduce symptoms of sinus infections, but will not flush out the infection itself.

Can I get rid of a sinus infection without antibiotics?

In many cases a sinus infection is treatable with home remedies. They are also often the result of viral infection, so antibiotics will not help. However, in cases of persistent bacterial infection, antibiotics can be of use.

People may be able to treat a sinus infection using home remedies, such as OTC medications, nasal irrigation, and warm compresses. Getting plenty of rest and staying hydrated are also essential as the body recovers.

If people have symptoms of a sinus infection for longer than 7–10 days or any severe symptoms, they can see their doctor for further treatment.

Antibiotics and prescription nasal sprays may help treat a sinus infection. In chronic cases, people may need nasal or oral steroids and surgery.