Sinuses are air-filled spaces within the bones of the face. They are located near the cheeks, around the nose, and between the eyebrows. Mucous membranes line the sinuses. The inflammation of these membranes due to a pathogen can cause excess mucus production and an infection called sinusitis (1).
Sinus infection affects about 31 million people in the US annually (2). Although a common ailment, if you are breastfeeding, you might have several questions like, “Can I feed my baby? Are the medicines that I am taking safe for my baby? Will I transmit the infection to my baby?”
In this MomJunction post, we answer all your queries about treatment and home remedies for sinusitis when you are breastfeeding.
Can A Sinus Infection Affect Milk Supply?
Sinus infection does not directly impact the milk supply. However, certain medicines, like some decongestant sprays that are used to treat sinus infection, might reduce the quantity of milk production (3).
Can A MotherPass A Sinus Infection To The Baby?
The infection does not get transmitted through breast milk. It is a droplet infection which gets transmitted through coughing and sneezing. Hence the transmission can can be prevented by using face mask and appropriate hand hygiene.
Precautions To Take When Breastfeeding With Sinus Infection
The following precautions might help in preventing the transmission of sinus infection from the mother to the baby.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before handling the baby and their personal items, such as toys and clothes.
- Keep tissues handy to wipe your nose.
- Use a sanitizer to clean your hands.
- If the baby touches your face with his/her fingers, then clean the baby’s hands too.
- Do not share the same utensils like the cup, glass, spoon, etc. with the baby.
- Wear a mask while breastfeeding the baby.
- Avoid kissing the baby until you are cured of the infection.
If you notice any symptoms in the baby, then see a pediatrician promptly.
Home Remedies For Sinus Infection
- Take rest. Try to sleep whenever your baby sleeps.
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking several glasses of water throughout the day.
- Use a cool-mist humidifier in your room for optimum moisture in the air.
- Boil some water and inhale the steam for relief.
- Avoid any fragrances or allergens that can trigger your sinusitis symptoms.
- Put a warm compress over your head and nose to help relieve sinus pressure.
- Use a nasal saline spray.
- Inhale steam from a solution of a few drops of eucalyptus oil mixed in two cups of water.
- Consume warm soup and warm caffeine-free drinks for relief from the symptoms.
- Keep your pillow elevated so that you can breathe better.
- You might have reduced appetite, but still, eat the foods you can to have optimal breast milk production.
- Ask family or friends to help you out with the baby for a few days if your symptoms are very severe.
When To See The Doctor?
If you try the home remedies and they do not work, then you should consider visiting a doctor. A sinus infection that is diagnosed early can be treated faster. Do not wait for too long once you begin to notice symptoms of sinusitis. Use the medicines prescribed by the doctor so that you can manage the symptoms better.
Medications For Sinus infection While Breastfeeding
The doctor is likely to prescribe the following medicines for sinus infections.
- Oral decongestants like pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine are usually prescribed for sinusitis. But these medicines have exhibited a reduction in breast milk production (3). However, it is a temporary change, and the quantity becomes normal once the medicine is discontinued.
- Saline nasal sprays are safe and effective in treating sinusitis. The doctor could prescribe an over-the-counter (OTC)nasal decongestant spray to relieve the congestion. They are generally considered safe when used as per doctor’s prescription (3).
- Pain medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) are usually considered safe for pain relief in a sinus infection (7).
- Antihistamines like cetirizine or fexofenadine are considered to be safe during breastfeeding to get relief from nasal decongestant (8). Antihistamines that cause drowsiness in mothers may cause drowsiness in the babies too, and are not usually prescribed.
The doctor will suggest the timing and dosage of the medicine in a way that the concentration of the drug in breast milk is minimal. Therefore, only have the medicines as per doctor’s prescription.
Medications To Avoid When Breastfeeding
Generally, doctors avoid the following medicines for sinus infections when you are breastfeeding, as they could be harmful to the baby.
- Avoid OTC drugs without consulting the doctor because you should know if these medicines contain compounds that could pass into breast milk and affect the baby.
- Avoid medicines that contain naproxen (9)
- Do not consume any antibiotics for sinus infections, as most sinus infections do not need antibiotics. Viral infections do not need antibiotics. The doctor will prescribe antibiotics if the symptoms are very severe, like, fever over 38.6°C (101.48°F), pain and tenderness in sinuses, and signs of a skin infection, such as a hot, red rash that spreads quickly (10). The commonly prescribed antibiotics are levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, and amoxicillin/clavulanate (11). If antibiotics are prescribed by the doctor, then the breastfeeding mother can safely consume it as it does not affect her breast milk.
Although some OTC medicines may not cause any potential hazard to the baby, it is suggested to use only prescription drugs.
What To Take For A Sinus Headache While Breastfeeding?
You can take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to get relief from headaches while breastfeeding if the doctor permits (7). Avoid using any drugs without the doctor’s consent.
Sinusitis is a common condition in adults and can be a significant concern for a breastfeeding mother. However, do not worry, as sinusitis is temporary and resolves in a few days or weeks. Consult your doctor for quick recovery. Maintaining good hygiene, like washing your hands often and keeping your surroundings clean,can help prevent transmission of infection to your baby.
Do you have any experience to share? Let us know in the comment section below.
2. Sinus Infection; American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
3. Decongestants and Breastfeeding; The Breastfeeding Network
4. SINUSITIS; Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
5. Antibiotics for Sinus Infection While Breastfeeding-Should You Take it?; SinusCure Organization
6. Sinus Infection (Sinusitis); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
7. Medicines and breastfeeding; Australian Government Department of Health
8. Antihistamines and Breastfeeding; The Breastfeeding Network
9. Naproxen; National Center for Biotechnology Information
10. Treating Sinus Infections: Don’t rush to antibiotics; Choosing Wisely Canada
11. Acute Sinusitis Medication; Medscape