Sinus Medicines - What are the Options

Which Sinus Medicine is Right for You?

There are many sinus medicines available over the counter and it can be confusing to decide which one is right for you. We've put together some information on the various ingredients and also information on drug free sinus remedies.

What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is the inflammation of the linings of the sinus cavities. The sinus cavities are passages filled with air and are lined with cells that secrete mucous. The frontal sinuses are behind the forehead, the maxillary sinuses behind the cheeks and the ethmoid and sphenoid cavities are behind the eyes. there are small openings in the bones that connect all these passages. If these become blocked the mucous secreted by the cells cannot drain out and the passages become congested.

This results in pain behind the eyes, behind the cheek bones and around the forehead. The pain increases if you bend your head down. It can also cause the teeth to hurt.

When the flow of air through the sinuses is impeded or the connecting holes are blocked sinus pain occurs. Swelling of the tissues lining the sinus passages can block the air flow and is caused by a wide variety of factors including allergies, infections and irritants. If the mucous produced by the cells lining the passages thickens for instance by being dehydrated or by some medications and cannot drain easily. Small hair like cilia in the passages beat continuously to move the mucous through the passages and if these become damaged, which can occur by breathing in irritants (smoke for instance) the mucous is not moved out of the sinuses but accumulates and can become infected.

Sinus pain can be caused by infected or non infected sinuses and is classified as acute (lasting less than 30 days) subacute (lasting between 1 and 3 months) and chronic (lasting over 3 months). Infection can follow from a cold or other infection when bacteria begin to multiply in the sinus cavities. If you're sinusitis is caused by an infection then you must seek medical treatment as over the counter remedies are not going to be effective.

For chronic sinusitis there are a range of sinus medicines available OTC.

12 hour decongestant by airnos
12 hour decongestant by airnos

Sinus Medicine - Decongestants

Pseudoephedrine is a common component of sinus medicine as it is an effective decongestant for congestion caused by allergies and colds. It does not cause rebound congestion which happens with some other decongestants but it can cause hypertension. It is however being replaced in sinus medicines by phenylephrine which is less effective as it is an ingredient in the illegal methamphetamine and medicines containing Pseudoephedrine have been placed behind the counter in pharmacies in many countries and the amount you can buy restricted.

Phenylephrine can be found in nasal sprays, oral medications and eye drops. It is the most common decongestant but there are claims that it is no more effective than a placebo. It has replaced Pseudoephedrine (which is much more effective) as the most common decongestant in sinus medicines. It also causes hypertension so should not be taken by anyone who suffers from this condition.

Side effects

Side effects of decongestant include hypertension as already notes plus anxiety, dizziness, nervousness and insomnia.

Topical Decongestants


Oxymetazoline is found in nasal sprays and works by constricting the blood vessels thus decreasing the amount of mucous accumulating in the sinus passages. It does cause rebound congestion however and should not be used for more than a few days.

All in-One Medicines

Some OTC medicines contain a variety of medications to deal with congestion, fever, coughs and pain. Unless you have all of these symptoms it is not advisable to take these as you will be taking unnecessary medicines. Stick to a medicine for the particular symptom that you have!

Drug Free Sinus Remedies

There are a variety of drug free remedies available but many are ineffective. the best way is to use a saline nasal wash two or three times a day. Use a tablespoon of non-iodised salt to a litre of water or use a neti pot. Neti pots are easy to use and pleasant and very effective for chronic sinusitis. Steam inhalation can also be effective in the short term. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to very hot water and inhale deeply.

You may also want to read about other natural sinus remedies and find more information at Congested Sinus Remedies - Some Helpful Advice

Neti Pot
Neti Pot

Click here for more information on the Neti Pot, Ceramic Nasal Cleanser: K
List Price: $19.95
Helps relieve sinus problems, moderates allergies, lessens the impact of colds and flu-naturally. Soothe dry nasal passages Gently wash away dust, pollen, and irritants Remove excess mucus naturally Why a Nasal Wash? The nasal passages are lined with a thin layer of mucus that is one of our bodys first lines of defense against disease. A nasal wash keeps this layer of mucus moist, clean and healthy. And compared to other nasal wash techniques, using the Neti Pot is much easier, simpler and quicker to do.


Information in this hub is for entertainment purposes only and should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. If you think you have a sinus problem please consult a doctor or other medical practitioner.

Comments 2 comments

nms profile image

nms 7 years ago from Cochin

good info

Clark 6 years ago

The neti pot is a great solution. Be careful when deciding to use surgery or harsh prescription drugs to cure sinusitis. There are many natural sinusitis remedies that are more effective without dangerous side effects.

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