Before purchasing an over-the-counter sinus medication, it's important to determine what type of sinus infection you have. Viral sinus infections cannot be treated with antibiotics, but the symptoms can be relieved with a decongestant, expectorant, analgesic, or antihistamine. Decongestants are best used for individuals who have a stuffy, congested feeling, and expectorants can help sinus infections that are accompanied by coughs. Those who feel pain or pressure alongside their congestion might be best suited to choose an analgesic. Antihistamines are helpful to people who have runny noses, allergies, or ongoing sinus infections.
If you need medication for congestion or a stuffy nose, a decongestant is likely the best option. It works to provide sinus infection relief for people who have clogged nasal passages by breaking up some of the congestion. In some cases, a decongestant can be used alongside an expectorant for greater effect. These drugs can cause sleepiness and fatigue, so they are often recommended for use at night.
An expectorant might be the best choice if you have a sinus infection that has led to coughing. During a sinus infection, the mucus can gather in the throat or chest, causing congestion and a cough. Expectorants thin the mucus, which makes it easier for the individual to cough it out.
If you experience pain and pressure during a sinus infection, it might be best to use a medication that includes an analgesic, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, which works to relieve pain and inflammation. Many people take analgesic medications when their congestion causes a painful cough or headache, and it might also help to eliminate fever.
An antihistamine is another useful over-the-counter sinus medication that is most used in people who have severe allergies. Antihistamines can also be used with runny noses in order to thicken the mucus. They block the effects of histamines during allergic reactions and can prevent coughs, sneezing, and congestion. If you regularly suffer from allergies, you might need to use them continually.
There also are alternative forms of over-the-counter sinus treatments available, such as humidifiers and sinus cleanses. A humidifier can increase the amount of moisture in the air, which prevents nasal passages from drying out. Sinus cleanses can loosen congestion and help clear out mucus and other materials, making it easier for the individual to breathe clearly. You can try these alternative methods and see whether they work for you.