Sinus Infections

What is the Best Medicine for Sinus Drainage?

November 23, 2023

6 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

We’ve all experienced the uncomfortable, nagging sensation of sinus drainage at some point in our lives. It’s an unpleasant reality that can interrupt our daily routine, making us feel miserable and worn down. 

The good news is that there are several effective treatments that can work to alleviate these symptoms and get you feeling comfortable again, including over-the-counter medicines, home remedies, and prescription medications. So, what is the best medicine for sinus drainage?

In this article, we will highlight a range of options like nasal irrigation, over-the-counter medication, natural remedies, and when necessary, prescription treatments to help you find the best medicine for sinus drainage.

What causes sinus drainage?

Sinus drainage is a common condition that occurs when the sinuses become inflamed and produce excessive green or yellow mucus, leading to symptoms like runny noses, post-nasal drip, facial pressure or pain, sinus headaches, coughing, and sometimes nausea*

There are various factors that can contribute to sinus drainage including allergies, colds, sinus infections, and other respiratory infections. In some cases, sinus drainage can be a chronic issue and may require medical intervention.

*Keep reading: Can sinus drainage cause nausea?

What is the best medicine for constant sinus drainage?

When it comes to finding the best medicine for sinus drainage in the throat, there are several options available. Here are some of the most commonly used medications for treating this condition:

Nasal decongestants

Nasal decongestants work by shrinking the blood vessels in the nasal passages, which helps to reduce swelling and congestion. This can provide relief from symptoms like a stuffy or runny nose. They are available over-the-counter in various forms, including nasal sprays, drops, and oral medication. Some of the most popular brands include Afrin, Sudafed, and Mucinex.

It’s important to note that nasal decongestants should not be used for more than three consecutive days, as they can cause rebound congestion and worsen symptoms. They may also have side effects such as increased heart rate or blood pressure, so it’s essential to consult with a doctor before using them.


Antihistamines, or allergy medications, work by blocking the effects of histamine, a chemical that is responsible for causing allergy symptoms. They can provide relief from sinus drainage caused by allergies, but they may not be effective for sinus drainage caused by other factors.

Like nasal decongestants, antihistamines are available over-the-counter and in prescription strength. Some popular options include Benadryl, Claritin, and Zyrtec. They can also cause side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth, or blurred vision.

Nasal irrigation

Nasal irrigation involves flushing out the sinuses with a saline solution. This can help to remove excess mucus and irritants, reducing inflammation and improving symptoms. It’s a popular home remedy for sinus drainage, and there are various methods for performing nasal irrigation, such as using a neti pot or a saline spray.

It’s important to use sterile water when performing nasal irrigation to avoid the risk of infection. Additionally, nasal irrigation is not recommended for those who have recently had nasal surgery or suffer from chronic nosebleeds.


Corticosteroids are a type of medication that can help to reduce inflammation in the sinuses, providing relief for symptoms such as post-nasal drip and facial pain. They are available in nasal spray form as well as oral medication and may be prescribed by a doctor for more severe cases of sinus drainage.

When taking steroids, always follow the prescribed dosage and duration, as long-term use can have side effects such as weight gain and increased risk of infections.


If your sinus drainage is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be necessary. These medications work by killing off the bacteria responsible for the infection and are typically prescribed by a doctor.

Be sure to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed, even if your symptoms improve. Stopping treatment too soon can lead to the bacteria becoming resistant to the medication and cause a recurrence of the infection.

Over-the-counter pain relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to reduce facial pain and pressure caused by sinus drainage. They are also effective in relieving headaches associated with this condition.

If you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications, consult with a doctor before taking these medications. OTC pain relievers may interact and cause side effects with certain medications such as blood thinners or antidepressants. 

How to stop sinus drainage if home treatments don’t work

In some cases, sinus drainage may not improve with home remedies or over-the-counter medications. If you aren’t seeing any signs of a sinus infection getting better, it’s essential to consult with a doctor in order to determine the root cause of your sinus drainage for further treatment options.

Some treatments that a doctor may recommend include:

  • Prescription-strength nasal sprays or oral medication for allergies or inflammation
  • Allergy shots (immunotherapy) to help reduce the body’s reaction to allergens
  • Sinus surgery (like balloon sinuplasty) for chronic sinusitis or structural issues in the sinuses

A doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes such as avoiding allergens, quitting smoking, and staying hydrated to help manage sinus drainage. If you determine that your sinus drainage is the result of a chronic sinus infection or allergies, balloon sinuplasty in Houston may be a suitable treatment option for you. This minimally invasive procedure can help to open up blocked sinuses and provide long-term relief from symptoms.

Learn more: How do I stop coughing from sinus drainage?

Can’t find the best sinus medicine for drainage that works for you? Balloon sinuplasty may be your answer.

If you’ve exhausted all of the best medicines for sinus drainage, including over-the-counter options and prescription medication, it may be time to explore more long-lasting solutions like balloon sinuplasty. Balloon sinuplasty is a safe and effective procedure that can provide long-term relief from chronic sinus drainage, allergies, chronic coughing, sinus headaches, and snoring.

During the procedure, Michael Kaplan, M.D., the pioneer of balloon sinuplasty in Houston, inserts a small balloon into the blocked sinus cavity and then inflates it gently to expand the sinus walls. This helps to open up the sinus passages and promote better drainage, reducing the frequency and severity of symptoms.

If you’re interested in learning more about balloon sinuplasty or other treatment options for sinus drainage, schedule a consultation with Dr. Kaplan by calling (713) 766-1818 or scheduling an appointment online today!

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Houston, TX 77098