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Antibiotics for Sinusitis

Table of Contents

Antibiotics for Sinusitis


Generic NameBrand Name
trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazoleBactrim, Septra

Antibiotics can be taken orally or intravenously (IV).

How It Works

Antibiotics kill or prevent the growth of bacteria that cause some sinus infections.

Acute sinusitis

When using antibiotics to treat acute sinusitis, it may be helpful to remember that:

Chronic sinusitis

When using antibiotics to treat chronic (long-term) sinusitis, it may be helpful to remember that:

Why It Is Used

Antibiotics may be needed when symptoms of sinusitis do not respond to home treatment, symptoms are severe, or complications (such as pus forming in sinus cavities) develop.

Other antibiotics may be prescribed to treat bacterial infections that are resistant to amoxicillin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.

How Well It Works

Antibiotic treatment of sinusitis is generally safe and very effective. Most people recover completely when they are treated with antibiotics.

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

Call your doctor if you have:

Common side effects of this medicine include:

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

It is important to take all of the medicine your doctor prescribes. Keep taking it even after you begin to feel better. This is especially important when treating sinusitis because the antibiotics do not easily penetrate the mucus inside the sinuses.

Your doctor will try to select an antibiotic that is most likely to kill the bacteria causing your sinusitis. If the antibiotic fails to cure your sinusitis, another may be tried. If your condition does not improve, further testing may be needed to find which antibiotic will work best for you.

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.


Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) to help you understand this medication.

Credits for Antibiotics for Sinusitis

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Donald R. Mintz, MD - Otolaryngology
Last Revised September 12, 2012

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