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Over-the-counter medication for sinus infection

Updated February 21, 2017

Sinus infections occur when the sinuses and nasal passages become severely inflamed. This inflammation can cause fever, coughing, facial pain, headache, nasal congestion and thick mucus. Luckily, many over-the-counter medications offer quick relief for sinus-infection symptoms.

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Afrin is a fast-acting OTC nasal spray commonly used to treat sinus infections. It provides relief within one to three minutes, but should not be used for more than three days because of the risk of dependency. With repeated use, Afrin spray becomes less effective and more frequent use is necessary to see results. Therefore, you should only use this product as needed and alternate use between nostrils.


Tylenol is often used to relieve facial pain, fever and headache associated with sinus infections. It is the brand most frequently recommended by doctors for OTC pain relief. When used as prescribed, it is extremely safe with few to no side effects.


One of the most popular OTC decongestants available is Sudafed. Although it does not relieve a runny nose, it does help to reduce nasal swelling and congestion. Side effects include lightheadedness and increased heart rate and blood pressure.


Containing the expectorant, guaifenesin, Mucinex helps to thin mucus, so you can cough better, thereby allowing you to breathe more easily. It works for up to 12 hours and is FDA-approved.

Advil Cold & Sinus

Advil Cold & Sinus combines a pain reliever with a decongestant, thereby reducing the number of pills. This OTC drug helps to relieve both sinus and cold and flu symptoms at the same time.


Benadryl is an OTC antihistamine used to fight allergic problems that lead to the nasal congestion associated with sinus infections. Although it relieves nasal congestion symptoms, it can also lead to drowsiness and grogginess.

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About the Author

Angela James graduated in 2000 with a degree in Political Science and Economics. Afterwards James worked as an Executive Assistant at a local bank where she was a writer and co-editor of the company employee newsletter. In 2003, she left the bank after the birth of her first child and became a freelance writer in 2008.

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