Skip to main content
Department of Otolaryngology

Department of Otolaryngology

Treating Acute Sinusitis

The treatment of acute and chronic sinusitis varies significantly. Acute sinusitis will often resolve with supportive care or a brief course of antibiotics, while the treatment of chronic sinusitis is often much more complex.  Deciding on the best treatment option requires an accurate diagnosis as well as weighing the risks and benefits of any given treatment. Once a decision is made, patients should approach their treatment with confidence, a positive mental attitude, an understanding of the anticipated outcome, and realistic goals for recovery.

Acute sinusitis: Because the symptoms of viral upper respiratory tract infections can be identical to acute sinusitis, and the fact that about 50% of acute bacterial sinusitis will resolve spontaneously, it is common to assume that sinus symptoms lasting less than 5 to 7 days in duration are viral and do not require an antibiotic. Over the counter medications that are commonly used to initially treat these symptoms include: decongestants, mucous thinning agents, saline irrigations, steam inhalation, and adequate intake of fluids. Antihistamines are not generally recommended except in the case of underlying allergic disease.

If symptoms persist for greater than 5-7 days, antibiotics may be prescribed to control the symptoms of acute sinusitis. For acute sinusitis, a seven to ten day course of antibiotics is usually effective, although more recently a number of shorter duration antibiotic regimens have been developed.


Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

Mailing address:

2521 Stockton Blvd., Suite 5200
Sacramento, CA 95817

Cleft Lip/Palate:

(916) 734-2452

Audiology & Speech Appointments:

(916) 734-5400

Facial Plastic Surgery Appointments:

(916) 734-2347

Dental Appointments:

(916) 734-5429

Reflux Clinic Appointments:

(916) 734-4076

Clinic Appointments:

(916) 734-5400