How to Treat a Sinus Infection While Nursing

A sinus infection can generally be treated without any problems, but when you're breastfeeding it's not quite as simple. Any medication you take while you're nursing a baby can potentially pass into your milk, notes the La Leche League website. So, it's important to know which medicine are safe to take while breastfeeding and which should be avoided 2.

Sinusitis Explained

Sinusitis, or an infection of the sinuses, is caused by one of three things: bacteria, fungi or a virus. The common cold or allergies is often the culprit, suggests WebMD. A cold, or other viral infection, will cause the sinus cavities to swell and prevent fluid from draining out the throat or nose. The fluid then builds up, allowing fungi or bacteria to start growing.

This can make you feel quite miserable. A variety of medications are available to treat a sinus infection and its symptoms, but when you're nursing you need to be cautious about what kind of medicine you take, to ensure it's safe for your little one 2.

Symptoms of Sinus Infection

As a nursing mom, you may already find yourself tired sometimes, especially if your baby is a newborn and you're still getting him settled into a sleep routine. Add sinusitis on top of that and you're downright exhausted.

Other symptoms of sinusitis generally include pressure and pain in the face and head, along with a stuffy or runny nose. Drainage out the nose or down the throat is also common. Sinusitis can also cause bad breath, teeth pain, headache and may impair your sense of smell or taste. In addition, some people have a mucous producing cough and fever with a sinus infection. Consult with your doctor if you have these symptoms while breastfeeding your baby, so you can learn the best way to treat your illness, while keeping your baby safe.

Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications

Antibiotics are usually not needed for treating acute sinusitis, but if a bacterial infection is suspected, antibiotics may be given to kill the bacteria, notes WebMD 1. The types most often prescribed are cefdinir and amoxicillin. Cefdinir is in the Cephalosporins family and amoxicillin is in the Penicillin family, both of which are considered safe medications to take while breastfeeding, according to the Mayo Clinic website 2.

Decongestants are sometimes recommended for reducing swelling and pressure. Some decongestants, such as Zyrtec D and Sudafed, can decrease your milk supply though, warns the Mayo Clinic website. Saline nasal drops are a safe alternative for nursing moms.

Pain medication can sometimes make you feel a bit better when you have sinusitis and some over-the-counter varieties are safe for nursing moms, including ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Never take any prescription or over-the-counter medicine while breastfeeding, unless you've talked with your doctor about it first.

At Home Treatments

Viral sinus infections cannot be cured with antibiotics. Instead, they generally run their course within 10 to 14 days. So, even though antibiotics won't help in this situation, there are some safe things nursing moms can do at home for relief.

Hydration is important for all nursing moms, since it's essential for milk production. Staying hydrated also helps clear a stuffy nose and aids in fighting infection. So, keep yourself hydrated by drinking lots of fluids, such as citrus juice, water or broth. Run a humidifier at night to help clear your sinuses and loosen any mucus you may have in your chest. Rest as much as possible and get plenty of sleep to help boost your immune system. Ask your family for help or nap when your baby naps if you need to. Place a hot, damp towel onto your forehead and face several times each day. Leave it there for around 10 minutes each time. Sit in your bathroom while the shower is running hot water. Breathing in the moist, warm air can help you breathe through your nose better.