What to Expect During Days 3-6 on Sinus Infection Medication?

Sinus infections, or sinusitis, can cause discomfort and disrupt daily life. Acute sinusitis causes the spaces inside the sinuses to become inflamed and swollen. This reaction then interferes with drainage and causes mucus to build up and become blocked, resulting in pressure and discomfort.

You may find it difficult to breathe through your nose and have thick, yellow, or greenish mucus running from your nose or down the back of your throat (postnasal drainage). The area around your eyes and face might feel swollen, causing throbbing facial pain or a headache. You may also feel ear pressure, aching in your teeth, cough, fatigue, or have a fever.

People with a deviated septum, nasal polyps, or weak immune system are more prone to sinus infections.

Fortunately, medications are available to alleviate symptoms and promote healing. Knowing what to expect during the course of a sinus infection and its treatment helps alleviate any anxiety you may have. 

Days 3-6 of Sinus Infection Treatment

By the third day of sinus infection treatment, you should begin to experience some relief. The medication works to reduce inflammation, fight infection, and promote drainage.

Here are common experiences and expectations during this phase:

  • Reduced facial pressure and pain: As the medication takes effect, you may notice a decrease in facial pressure and pain. Sinus cavities start to clear, relieving the discomfort of the pressure build-up associated with sinus infections.
  • Improved breathing: Congestion and nasal obstruction should gradually improve during this phase. You may notice that your ability to breathe through your nose becomes easier as the medication helps reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Decreased nasal discharge: If you have been experiencing a runny or stuffy nose, you should notice a decrease in nasal discharge by days 3-6. The medication helps to clear out excess mucus.
  • Enhanced Sense of Smell: Sinus infections can affect your sense of smell. As the infection subsides and your sinuses start to clear, you may notice an improvement in your ability to smell.

How Long Should I Expect to Take Medications for a Sinus Infection?

Many sinus infections, especially viral sinus infection symptoms, get better on their own, but your doctor may recommend treatments to help relieve symptoms. The treatment for sinus infection depends on the type of sinusitis and the source of the infection. Your healthcare provider may take a wait-and-see approach and suggest over-the-counter medications to help relieve symptoms first.

If your symptoms persist or worsen, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. The length of treatment time varies. Adult treatment usually lasts five to seven days, and children's treatment lasts 10 to 14 days. It is crucial to continue taking prescribed antibiotics as directed by your healthcare provider, even if you start feeling better. Completing the full course of medication helps ensure the infection is fully treated and reduces the risk of recurrence.

Over-the-counter medications may include the following:

  • Saline nasal sprays used several times a day can rinse your nasal passages.
  • Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, help relieve symptoms.
  • Antihistamines, or allergy medications, can help with symptoms if your sinusitis is due to allergies.
  • Nasal corticosteroids help prevent and treat inflammation. Medications include fluticasone (Flonase), budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy), mometasone (Nasonex), and beclomethasone (Beconase AQ).
  • Decongestants are available over-the-counter (OTC) or as prescription liquids, tablets, and nasal sprays. Keep in mind that you should only use nasal decongestants for a few days, as they may cause the return of more-severe congestion, or rebound congestion.

Make sure to talk to your healthcare provider and read instructions carefully about over-the-counter medicine product labels before giving them to children. Healthcare professionals do not recommend some medicines for children of certain ages.

What Side Effects Can I Expect While Taking Sinus Infection Medications on Days 3-6?

While most people tolerate sinus infection medication well, some may experience side effects that range from mild reactions, like a rash, drowsiness, or dry mouth, to mild gastrointestinal disturbances. Serious complications can include severe allergic reactions, antibiotic-resistant infections, and C. diff infection.

What Can I Do to Alleviate Any Discomfort or Pain Associated with Taking the Medication?

Experiencing discomfort or pain when taking medication can be bothersome and may impact your overall treatment experience. However, there are several strategies you can use to alleviate discomfort or pain.

  • Take medication with food or water. Some medicines can cause stomach irritation or discomfort. Taking them with food or a full glass of water can help alleviate any potential digestive issues. Food can provide a protective barrier in the stomach and aid in absorbing certain medications. When taking antibiotics, focus on foods containing probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods, to help restore the natural balance in your gut.

  • Follow dosage instructions. It is crucial to take the medication exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Taking too little or too much medication can lead to unintended side effects. Follow the recommended dosage and frequency to ensure optimal effectiveness while minimizing discomfort.

  • Use over-the-counter remedies. Over-the-counter remedies, such as anti-inflammatory pain relievers, can help alleviate discomfort.

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day can help alleviate dry mouth or throat irritation caused by certain medications. Staying hydrated not only helps with medication absorption but also promotes overall well-being.

  • Adjust the timing of medication. If you experience discomfort or pain after taking medication, consider adjusting the timing of your doses. For example, taking medication with a meal can help prevent stomach upset, while taking it before bedtime can minimize any potential drowsiness during the day. Ensure you follow your healthcare provider's instructions on antibiotic timing, as they must be adequately spaced apart.

Is It Normal to Experience Fluctuations In My Symptoms During the Course of the Medication?

It is normal to experience fluctuations in symptoms during the course of medication. These fluctuations can sometimes be concerning. Knowing what to expect ahead of time will ensure that your treatment course goes smoothly.

When starting a new medication, the body may require an adjustment period. During this time, symptoms may temporarily worsen or fluctuate until the drug begins to take effect. It is a normal part of the healing process and will subside over a few days.

Medications work differently for each person, and the response time to treatment can vary. It is possible to experience periods of symptom relief followed by a resurgence of symptoms depending on the body's response to the medication.

Sometimes the dosage or timing of administration can influence the effectiveness of medication. If the dosage is too low, symptoms may persist or fluctuate. 

If you are still not feeling relief after 3-6 days, or your symptoms worsen, reach out to your healthcare provider; you may require a different prescription or need to be checked for a more severe infection.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, August 27). Sinus infection (sinusitis).  

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, July 12). C. diff (Clostridioides difficile). 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, December 17). Antimicrobial resistance.  

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, August 27). Acute sinusitis. Mayo Clinic.  


Lauren Rivera

Author bio

Lauren Rivera is a nationally certified neonatal intensive care nurse with over 15 years of experience. She serves as a nurse expert offering support and educational classes for women from preconception through childhood. Lauren is also a freelance health and wellness writer with works published on several nursing sites. She develops and curates content for various healthcare companies, and writes continuing education modules for other healthcare professionals.