Acute Sinusitis

Consider a no or delayed antibiotic strategy A+

Doses are oral and for adults unless otherwise stated. Visit the Health Products Regulatory Authority website for drug SPCs, dosage, contraindications, interactions (or IMF/BNF/BNFC/MIMS) - Healthcare professionals should use a range of reference sources to inform their prescribing decisions.  See guidance on dosing in children for quick reference dosage/weight guide.

Letters indicate strength of evidence range from A+ (systematic review) to D (informal opinion).

Statins can interact with some antibiotics and increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis. Amiodarone and drugs which prolong the QT interval can interact with many antibiotics. Many antibiotics increase the risk of bleeding with anticoagulants. Please refer to our Drug Interactions Table for further information.

Comments from Expert Advisory Committee

  1. Many are viral. Symptomatic benefit of antibiotics is small.
  2. 80% resolve in 14 days without antibiotics and they only offer marginal benefit after 7 days (NNT 15). A
  3. Reserve for severe cases B+ or symptoms >10 days.
  4. Cochrane review concludes that amoxicillin and phenoxymethylpenicillin have similar efficacy to the other recommended antibiotics.
  5. In persistent infection use an agent with anti-anaerobic activity e.g. co-amoxiclav. B+

Symptomatic relief

  • Use NSAID or paracetamol B+
  • Systemic decongestants, e.g. pseudoephedrine, improve air circulation and mucus drainage
  • Saline preparations for local irrigation (e.g. nasal rinses, sprays, drops)
  • Topical decongestants, e.g. oxymetazoline, xylometazoline, suitable for most patient groups (hypertensive, diabetes, pregnant women post first trimester)
  • Topical route should not be used >7 days due to rebound congestion


Consider a no or delayed antibiotic strategy. A+

If antibiotics deemed clinically indicated:

Treatment Adult Dose TX Duration
First line amoxicillin A+ 500 mg TDS 7-10 days
OR doxycycline if allergic to penicillin 200 mg stat/100 mg OD 7-10 days
OR clarithromycin if allergic to penicillin 250-500mg BD 7-10 days
Second line co-amoxiclav 625 mg TDS 7-10 days

Patient Information

The HSE Health A-Z website provides patient information on many hundreds of conditions and treatments.

Click here to view information about Sinusitis

We recommend patients use the website developed by HSE/ICGP/IPU partnership for tips on how to get better from common infections without using antibiotics, what you can do for yourself or a loved one and when to seek help.

Reviewed - November 2017

Patient Information

Visit HPSC Information Leaflets pages for the General Public, (MRSA, CRE, etc)

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