Sinus infections are no fun at all. They come with facial pain, pressure that can lead to intense headaches, and cold-like symptoms that can really interfere with your day. Because it's tough to tell whether a sinus infection is caused by a virus or a bacteria, it's no wonder that patients desperate for relief ask their doctors for antibiotics just in case in the hope of eliminating the symptoms sooner. But the experts say that in 90 to 98 percent of cases, sinus infections are caused by viruses, which can't be helped by antibiotics at all. In fact, using antibiotics for viral infections may actually harm you, because the overuse of antibiotics can contribute to drug-resistant infections that are hard to cure. So how can you get some relief? Take a look at some ways that you can treat sinus infections without resorting to unnecessary antibiotics.
If you're looking for a simple and affordable home remedy, nasal irrigation may be just the trick for you. Sure, the idea of squirting saline water in your nose may sound distasteful, but if it can relieve your symptoms, isn't it worth a try?
Mixing up your own saline solution is simple. All you need is kosher salt, baking soda, water, and a squeeze bottle that you can buy at a drug store. You need to use kosher salt because it doesn't contain iodine or any other additives. The baking powder functions as a buffer so that your nasal passages aren't irritated by the mixture. Mix ¼ teaspoon of each of the dry ingredients with 8 ounces of water, put it in the squeeze bottle, and squirt it gently in your nostrils.
If you have well water or if you have any reason to fear bacteria in your water, you should boil the water before using it (and let it cool, of course) or opt for distilled water instead. Be sure to keep your squeeze bottle clean and replace it often.
Another natural option for sinus infections is bromelain supplements. Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple that has anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, taking bromelain can reduce the swelling in your nasal passages and relieve the pressure that you're feeling because of your sinus infection.
Eating pineapple might sound like a delicious way to get rid of a sinus infection, but the truth is that you're probably not going to get enough of the enzyme in your system to help just by eating pineapple. You can find bromelain supplements in health food stores. The adult dose is between 80 and 320 mg a day, taken on an empty stomach. If you're going to take bromelain, talk to your doctor first to be sure that it doesn't negatively interact with any other drugs or supplements that you're taking.
Sometimes, home remedies and natural remedies just aren't enough. In that case, instead of asking about antibiotics, ask your doctor about taking corticosteroids, like a fluticasone nasal spray. These intranasal sprays are effective at relieving the symptoms of either viral or bacterial sinusitis by reducing the swelling inside of your nose. Corticosteroids are also effective at treating nasal polyps— teardrop-shaped growths that sometimes occur as the result of chronic inflammation.
Corticosteroids are especially helpful if you suffer from chronic or recurring sinus infections, because they're considered safe even for long-term use. They have a few side effects, but most of them are minor, like burning, crusting, dryness, or occasional nosebleeds. However, as long as you follow your doctor's instructions and stick with the lowest effective dose, you should be safe from any severe or long-term side effects.
Sinus infections can be miserable, but they're also treatable. There's no reason to continue to suffer or to risk the dangers of antibiotic overuse. Talk to your doctor about your options for treating sinus infections without antibiotics. Go to websites like this one to learn more.