The ABCs of Sinus Infection Medication

 By: Jillian Phillips
The sinuses are four sets of air-filled cavities in the skull. These cavities are ventilated through small openings called ostia (singular: ostium) which open into the nasal cavity. For a variety of reasons such as anatomic defects, reaction to any allergen or simple diseases like common colds, the sinus ostia may become blocked, allowing bacteria to be lodged in the obstructed sinus cavity. Under normal circumstances, tiny hair projections called cilia sweep away bacteria in the sinus cavity out through the nose. However, when the openings into the nose are obstructed, bacteria are allowed to multiply rapidly. This is where a sinus infection commences, with the bacteria attacking the lining of the sinuses, causing them to get inflamed. This prompts the immune system to work. Consequences of this inflammatory response include the swelling of the sinus and nasal walls and the production of copious amounts of mucus secretions. Thus, the person suffering from a sinus infection experience pain and pressure over the infected sinus, nasal congestion and drainage of a greenish mucopurulent discharge.

Typically, sinus infections are treated with a combination of medications. You can remember these sinus medications using the mnemonic ABC:

A is for Anti-microbial
Anti-microbials are a group of drugs that kill various disease-causing microorganisms. Different medications apply for different organisms, so it is important for doctors to identify the infective organism to ensure effective treatment. As previously mentioned above, most cases of acute sinusitis result from bacteria being lodged in obstructed sinus. For sinus infections caused by bacteria, antibiotics are prescribed. Antibiotics used as sinus medication include Mupirocin, Azithromycin and Levofloxacin. However, sometimes, bacteria are not the only culprits. Recent researches, in fact, reveal that chronic sinusitis can be caused by fungal infections. Upon discovery that fungi are the infective agents, anti-fungal medications should be administered.

B is for Breath Savers
Because of the congestion that results from the blocked ostia and/or the nasal cavities stuffed with lots of secretions, even breathing can sometimes be difficult for a person with sinus infections. For this reason, another common type of sinus medication doctors often prescribe are decongestants. Decongestants, like pseudoephedrines, act by constricting the blood vessels in the area to open up blocked nasal cavities and by decreasing the secretions produced. Thus, the patient is able to breathe more easily. Caution, decongestants should not be taken for more than 3 days unless instructed by your doctor.

C is for corticosteroids
Another problem with sinus infection is the inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the sinus and nasal cavities. Again, this inflammation aggravates the congestion brought about by the production of too much mucus secretion. When decongestants alone don't seem enough, doctors often prescribe corticosteroids, such as Flonase, Nasonex, Rhinocort, which act as very effective anti-inflammatory agents.

Ways to Go with Your ABCs
All these sinus medications are often available in oral forms (like tablets, capsules and syrups) or for topical (local) administration in the form of nasal sprays. However, there are breakthrough ways of topical administration which are gaining the nods of doctors. Nebulizers, like SinusAero and medical irrigators, such as ActiveSinus can administer medications directly to sinus and nasal cavities for faster and more effective results. You can ask your doctor for more information if you are interested about the advantages of medicated sinus irrigation.
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