If you have a terrible cold--facial pain, nasal congestion, and yellow-green mucus--neither antibiotics nor nasal steroids are likely to help you get better any faster, according to a new study. Here's your best plan of attack, according to Richard Rosenfeld, MD, otolaryngology chairman at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn.

WAIT IT OUT A WEEK After 7 days, about 75% of sinus infections improve without prescription drugs, says Rosenfeld, especially if the condition is mild (minor pain and a temperature less than 100°F).
OPT FOR OTC TLC In the meantime, over-the-counter decongestants, pain relievers (like acetaminophen), and especially sinus-irrigating rinses (such as SinuCleanse or ENTSOL) are helpful at providing relief.
STILL SICK? If symptoms are the same or worse after 7 to 10 days, or initially improve but then worsen, it's a good sign that bacteria are to blame (viral infections generally subside within 10 days, or at least start to improve). See your doctor to confirm; if so, amoxicillin is generally the first-line therapy. Continue sinus irrigation to help speed healing. Sinus x-rays are unnecessary for diagnosing acute sinusitis and should be avoided.


By Danielle Kosecki

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