What Is the Best Medicine for Sinus Congestion?

Medically Reviewed on 5/19/2022
What Is the Best Medicine for Sinus Congestion
Here are the best medicines for sinus congestion and when to see a doctor if your symptoms are severe

Sinus congestion can be relieved with both over-the-counter (OTC) medications and home remedies. Learn about the best medicines for sinus congestion and when to see a doctor if your symptoms are severe.

5 medicines that help relieve sinus congestion

  1. Decongestants: Decongestants help reduce swelling in the nasal passages and ease sinus congestion and pain. Do not take decongestants for more than 3-5 days. Avoid giving them to children without consulting a pediatrician. Examples of decongestants are include:
    1. Privine (naphazoline)
    2. Afrin, Dristan, Nostrilla, and Vicks Sinus Nasal Spray (oxymetazoline)
    3. Neo-Synephrine, Sinex, and Rhinall (phenylephrine)
    4. Sudafed PE (phenylephrine)
    5. Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)
  2. Antihistamines: Antihistamines are allergy medications that can help relieve nasal congestion and pressure caused by allergies.
  3. Steroid nasal sprays: Steroid nasal sprays can help with allergy stuffiness and relieve inflammation in your nasal passages.
  4. Pain relievers: Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen can ease the pain and pressure caused by sinus congestion.
  5. Medicated ointments: These contain menthol, which can help you breathe better by opening up your airways.

Brand names of some of the best OTC medications for sinus congestion include:

What home remedies can help relieve sinus congestion?

When your nose is stuffy and congested, you can keep your nasal passages and sinuses moist by:

  • Using a humidifier or vaporizer
  • Inhaling steam from a hot shower or pot of hot water
  • Drinking plenty of fluids to thin out the mucus
  • Using a saline nasal spray to keep your nasal passages from drying out
  • Applying a warm, wet towel to your face to help open up your sinuses
  • Avoiding chlorinated pools
  • Trying a neti pot or nasal irrigator to flush out the sinuses (done under medical supervision)
  • Keeping your head elevated when lying down
  • Avoiding blowing your nose too forcefully, which can force the mucus into your ears or other parts of the sinuses
  • Applying eucalyptus oil to a tissue paper and sleeping next to it or adding it to hot water and inhaling the steam

What causes sinus congestion?

Sinus congestion has many causes, with the most common cause being a virus. In some cases, it can be caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. 

Other causes of sinus congestion include:

What are the symptoms of sinus congestion?

Sinus pain most commonly occurs above the eyebrow, behind the eye, and under the cheekbone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sinus congestion may cause symptoms such as:

When to see a doctor for sinus congestion

Sinus congestion usually resolves with over-the-counter medications and home remedies within a week. The CDC recommends consulting a medical professional if you notice the following:

  • Temperature higher than 100.4 F
  • Fever that lasts more than 3 days
  • Worsening symptoms
  • Symptoms that persist even after 10 days
  • Frequent sinus issues
  • Swelling or redness of the skin
  • Severe breathing difficulties


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Medically Reviewed on 5/19/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

Morgan Griffin. How to Treat Nasal Congestion and Sinus Pressure. WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/allergies/sinus-congestion

Sinus Infection. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology: https://acaai.org/allergies/allergic-conditions/sinus-infection/

Jayne Garrison. 6 Steps to Fight Sinus Problems. WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/allergies/sinus-tips

Acute sinusitis: Do over-the-counter treatments help? Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acute-sinusitis/expert-answers/acute-sinusitis/faq-20058562