Over-the-Counter Therapies & Medications for Chronic Sinusitis

The ear, nose, and throat specialists at NYU Langone customize your treatment plan, helping you to manage chronic sinusitis based on the type of condition affecting you and the severity of the symptoms. Many of the medications used to treat chronic sinusitis are available at drugstores without a prescription. Other therapies that do not include medication are inexpensive and can be done at home.


Drinking plenty of fluids is a simple and accessible treatment for chronic sinusitis. The sinuses can drain mucus more easily when you are well hydrated. An air humidifier may also help to hydrate and soothe your nasal passages.

Nasal Rinses

Nasal rinses, also called sinus washes, can be done using a Neti pot, bulb syringe, or other irrigation device. These small, handheld devices are filled with salt water, also called saline, that is then squirted or poured into the nose to rinse the nasal cavity. This washes away excess mucus, which may relieve symptoms such as a stuffy or runny nose, facial pain or pressure, and postnasal drip. 


Decongestant medications contain ingredients that reduce swelling in the nasal passages and sinuses, which may alleviate symptoms such as stuffiness, facial pain or pressure, and headache. Decongestants can be applied as a nasal spray or taken by mouth.


If you have allergies, an antihistamine may be recommended. Histamines are chemicals that the body releases when you come into contact with something you are allergic to. Histamines can cause stuffiness, a runny nose, and watery and itchy eyes. Antihistamines work by blocking these chemicals in order to alleviate allergy symptoms. Antihistamines are available as pills, nasal sprays, liquids, or eye drops.


Mucolytics, such as guaifenesin, are chemical compounds that can help loosen and clear mucus from the nasal passages, sinuses, and lungs. They dissolve chemical bonds in mucus, making it thinner and helping it to drain more easily. Mucolytics are taken by mouth.

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