The best way to prevent sinusitis is to avoid colds and influenza. If you are unable to avoid them, the next best way to prevent sinusitis is to effectively treat colds and influenza.
Good Hygiene and Preventing Transmission
Colds and flu are spread primarily when an infected person coughs or sneezes near someone else. A very common method for transmitting a cold is by shaking hands. Everyone should always wash their hands before eating and after going outside. Ordinary soap is sufficient. Waterless hand cleaners that contain an alcohol-based gel are also effective for everyday use and may even kill cold viruses. (They are less effective, however, if extreme hygiene is required. In such cases, alcohol-based rinses are needed.) Antibacterial soaps add little protection, particularly against viruses. Wiping surfaces with a solution that contains one part bleach to 10 parts water is very effective in killing viruses.
Influenza Vaccine. Because influenza viruses change from year to year, influenza vaccines are redesigned annually to match the anticipated viral strains. Doctors recommend that people receive annual influenza vaccinations in October or November.
Flu vaccines are now recommended for virtually everyone over 6 months of age, except those allergic to eggs or other vaccine compounds. [For more information, see In-Depth Report #94: Colds and influenza.]
Pneumococcal Vaccines. The pneumococcal vaccine protects against S. pneumoniae (also called pneumococcal) bacteria, the most common bacterial cause of respiratory infections. There are two effective vaccines available, one called a 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine (Pneumovax, Pnu-Immune) for adults and a 13-valent conjugate vaccine (Prevnar 13) for infants and children before 2 years of age. Doctors are now recommending that more people, including healthy people age 65 and older, be given the pneumococcal vaccine, particularly in light of the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria. [For more information, see In-Depth Report #90: Immunizations.]
Review Date: 05/10/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.