It’s no fun when your head is stuffy and you have a splitting headache. Although these can be symptoms of a variety of conditions, they are also commonly signs of a sinus infection. A sinus infection or sinusitis as it’s known in the medical world is caused most commonly by a virus, but, in some cases, can be caused by a bacteria. If your doctor has given you an antibiotic, he probably believes you have bacterial sinusitis. Antibiotics are not always needed for treatment of bacterial sinusitis, but may be prescribed when the symptoms are prolonged or unusually severe. Because antibiotics don’t work immediately, you may be tempted to try some home remedies to speed up your recovery. Here are some you may want to avoid since they don’t appear to work according to most studies.
Ineffective bacterial sinusitis treatment: Vitamin C
Linus Pauling may not have been right about this one. Although many people swear by it, vitamin C has never been shown in studies to shorten the course of a sinus infection. While there may no justification for taking megadoses of vitamin C for sinusitis, enjoying fruits that are high in vitamin C along may offer some benefit due to their high levels of antioxidants which can theoretically help to reduce some of the inflammation you’re experiencing.
Ineffective bacterial sinusitis treatment: Saline spray
Although saline sprays have shown some benefit in treating sinus congestion related to allergies, they haven’t been shown to be effective in shortening the duration of bacterial sinusitis. They can be helpful for keeping the nasal passages moist and may slightly improve stuffiness and congestion in some people. Since they have no serious side effects, if they make you feel better, use them.
Ineffective bacterial sinusitis treatment: Echinacea
Because some studies showed that Echinacea might shorten the course of the common cold, many people starting using this herb to treat sinusitis. Unfortunately, the most recent studies looking at Echinacea for cold treatment have been disappointing. It’s also never been shown to be of any benefit for treating sinusitis.
Ineffective bacterial sinusitis treatment: Zinc lozenges
This is another home remedy that appeared to hold promise for treatment of the common cold. Eight clinical trials failed to show benefit of its effectiveness for cold treatment, so it’s unlikely it would be effective for treating sinusitis. Even worse, zinc preparations have been associated with permanent loss of smell in rare cases.
Ineffective bacterial sinusitis treatment: Antihistamines
Although antihistamines are sometimes given for treatment of sinusitis, they generally have no effect since histamine production doesn’t occur with bacterial sinusitis. In fact, antihistamines can make symptoms worse by causing excessive dryness of the nasal passages.
The bottom line? Save your money and don’t fall for these treatments that probably won’t speed up your recovery. The good news? Most cases of bacterial sinusitis go away in seven to ten days even without treatment.