Decongestants are drugs that help reduce nasal congestion. They are available in both pill and nasal spray forms. However, decongestants will not cure sinusitis. Nasal decongestants may actually worsen sinusitis by increasing sinus inflammation. Due to the lack of evidence for the benefit of nasal decongestants in treating sinusitis, the FDA ruled ordered manufacturers of over-the-counter (OTC) nasal decongestant products to remove from their labeling all references to sinusitis.
Your doctor may still recommend that you take either an OTC or prescription nasal decongestant to help relieve blockage symptoms associated with sinusitis. If you think you have sinusitis, check with your doctor before taking a decongestant. Do not try to treat sinusitis by yourself.
Decongestants should never be used in infants and children under the age of 4 years, and some doctors recommend not giving them to children under the age of 14. Children are at particular risk for central nervous system side effects including convulsions, rapid heart rates, loss of consciousness, and death.
Specific Antibiotics Used for Sinusitis
Penicillins. Amoxicillin (Amoxil, Polymox, Trimox, Wymox, or any generic formulation) has been the most widely prescribed antibiotic for acute sinusitis. This penicillin is both inexpensive and at one time was highly effective against the S. pneumoniae bacteria. Unfortunately, bacterial resistance to amoxicillin has increased significantly, both among S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae, and penicillin is no longer as reliable as it once was.
Amoxicillin-clavulanate (Augmentin) is a type of penicillin that works against a wide spectrum of bacteria. An extended release form has been approved for treating adults with sinusitis infections that have become resistant to penicillin.
Cephalosporins. Cephalosporin antibiotics are often classed by generation:
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.