Treating Yourself
  With OTC Meds

Do I Need to See
  A Doctor?

Everything About
  Surgical Treatment

Treatment Plans for
Specific Problems


Viral Infections

Acute Bacterial
  Sinus Infections

Chronic Bacterial
  Sinus Infections

Nasal Septal

Use the links on the right to find advice on treating sinus and nasal problems with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Reading below will give you an overview of what to expect.
Many acute sinus and nasal problems can be helped by using commonly available OTC medicines. Flare ups of minor chronic problems may also benefit from OTC medicines, but if your problem is truly constant or frequent, you will benefit in the long run from seeing a specialist and seeking out customized advice.
When I go to the pharmacy or supermarket and see the OTC section, I am amazed at how difficult they make it for patients to select an appropriate medicine. If you follow just a few simple principles, selecting helpful OTC medicines becomes a lot easier.
  • Get generics whenever available. They are the same, really.
  • Avoid complicated mixtures, it is better to take several simple medicines and tailor them to your personal situation than to take a product with many ingredients all mixed in, one size does not fit all.
  • Read the labels to be sure that the OTC medicine is compatible with any health problems you might have or medications you might take. While OTC medicines are generally safe, there are important considerations if you have health problems. Also, be aware that some prescription medicines for sinus and nasal problems are actually safer than OTC medicines, so those with significant health issues should ask their doctor about this.

If you avoid all the marketing hype, fancy packaging, and dismiss those things that are just plain ineffective, using OTC meds can be simple. There are hundreds of products on the shelves, but basically they are all either ineffective garbage, or they are mixtures of the following:

There are really just 7 key OTC ingredients, and some minor variants of each one.

My Pick Category Purpose Brands / others
ibuprofen non steroidal pain reliever to reduce pain and inflammation Advil - Aspirin - Aleve
pseudoephedrine decongestant open passages only one other similiar ingredient - phenylephrine
clemastine antihistamine block the allergic reaction Tavist
codeine cough suppressant to reduce "non-helpful" coughing schedule V, ask pharmacist
oxymetazoline spray decongestant opens nasal airway Afrin and many similar "addictive" nasal sprays
guaifenesin mucolytic thins mucous Mucinex
chromolyn sodium spray mast cell stabilizer blocks nasal allergies Nasalcrom
OTC Meds

Treating a Cold
  With OTC Meds

Treating Allergies
  With OTC Meds

Treating Chronic
  Problems with OTC

Specific OTC Meds



Decongestant Sprays

Pain Relievers

Cough Suppressants

Mucous Thinners

Saline Rinses

Zinc Gluconate

Cromolyn Spray

Steroid Sprays

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