What Is The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of A Sinus Infection
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How To Avoid Spreading Your Contagious Sinus Infection
David Cuthbertson, MD
The old adage, sharing is caring, doesnt apply to illnesses.
But with over 30 million Americans diagnosed with sinus infections every year, how can we be sure we arent spreading this particular ailment to those around us?
Should we to go to work or to the grocery store with a sinus infection? Or should we call in sick and order our groceries online?
Is a sinus infection contagious? And if it is, should you stay home? Wear a mask? Or carry on as usual?
Which Type Of Bronchitis Is Contagious
According to bronchitis etiology, short-term or acute condition usually follows a common cold, flu, or infections of the respiratory tract, while long-term or chronic bronchitis is manifested after exposure to respiratory irritants. Yes, acute bronchitis is contagious, and no, chronic cases are not. When bronchitis is caused by infections , then only it is transmittable to other healthy individuals. Since acute bronchitis is caused due to cold, flu, and alike infections, the pathogens can transmit in the same way like common cold and influenza viruses.
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Why Do Sinus Infections Occur
Your sinuses are hollow chambers inside your cheeks, forehead and between the eyes. The lining of these passages can swell, causing a buildup of mucus.
Many develop a sinus infection after catching a cold, known as the rhinovirus. A runny nose and congestion, common cold symptoms, can cause inflammation and prevent the sinuses from draining properly.
If you are experiencing a viral sinus infection, you cant spread the infection to others, but you can pass along the virus. Someone who catches the virus from you is then at a higher risk of also developing a sinus infection. You may be contagious for up to two weeks.
Sinus infections can also be caused by bacteria. When mucus pools, it becomes an ideal spot for bacteria to grow.
Allergies, nasal polyps and anything that causes a structural blockage of the sinus cavity can cause an infection, as the narrowed pathway makes it harder for mucus to adequately drain. None of these causes are contagious.
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Do Antibiotics Benefit Any Subgroups
The investigators also analyzed the prognostic value of specific signs and symptoms to answer the question: Is there any subgroup of patients who might benefit more from antibiotic treatment?
Duration. Patients with a longer duration of symptoms, more severe symptoms, or increased age took longer to cure, but were no more likely to benefit from antibiotic treatment than other patients.
Symptoms, such as a previous common cold, pain on bending, unilateral facial pain, tooth pain, and purulent nasal discharge did not have any prognostic value.
Only one signpurulent discharge noted in the pharynx on examinationwas associated with a higher likelihood of benefit from treatment with antibiotics, but the NNT was still 8 in this group. Patients with symptoms for 7 days or longer were no more likely to respond to antibiotics than those with symptoms for fewer than 7 days.1
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Definition Of Sinusitis Antibiotics
Mainly, doctors prescribe antibiotics to treat up bacterial infections because of its anti bacterial nature. So, we can say that these drugs have potential to kill off the bacteria that generally are called bactericidal or bacteriostatic. Furthermore, one should understand that it do not do anything viral infections like flu etc. For sinusitis treatment, use of antibiotics is a common practice and the selection of this medication depends upon the type of sinusitis a patient suffers from. You can see classification of sinusitis antibiotics below.
These are very popular antibiotics in the market and one can easily get it from nearby drug store.
How To Treat A Sinus Infection At Home
In the first two weeks of a sinus infection, patients may use saline sprays, over-the-counter steroid sprays like Flonase, and over-the-counter decongestants.
After 10 days, if the drainage is still colored, an antibiotic is likely necessary. Theres no homeopathic alternative to antibiotics. However, saline spray, topical steroid sprays, and decongestants work well with antibiotics to clear most infections.
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How Can I Avoid Getting A Sinus Infection
While theres no sure way to guarantee you wont get a sinus infection, there are things you can do to reduce your risks. Because most sinus infections are viral, its important to take the same steps you would to avoid getting a cold or any other virus.
Sinus infection prevention tips
- Avoid touching your nose, eyes or mouth
- Limit contact with people who have colds or other viruses
- Disinfect common household items and things like cellphones and shopping cart handles
- Get plenty of sleep
If you suspect that your sinus infections are being triggered by allergies, its a good idea to take steps to avoid common allergens like pet dander, dust, pollen and smoke. You can also talk to a medical provider who can help determine the cause of your allergies and prescribe medications to keep your allergies in check.
Will A Sinus Infection Go Away On Its Own
When you have a sinus infection, you want to do everything you can to make it go away. In cases where a sinus infection is viral, the best treatment is to follow the self-care tips outlined above and let your bodys immune system do its job.
The good news is that most sinus infections are viral and will go away on their own. It can, however, take time for your body to fight off the infection. In most cases, you should start to feel better within a week or two.
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How Can You Keep From Spreading A Sinus Infection
Try incorporating these common sense practices to keep from spreading your sinus infection.
- Wash your hands! This seems basic, but it always bears repeating. Handwashing really is the best way to prevent the spread of germs! Be sure to wash with soap and water before handling food, after using the restroom, and especially after blowing your nose or touching your face.
- Cover your cough! Feeling a tickle in your throat? Turn away from those around you and cough into the crook of your elbow. This prevents germs from getting all over your hands while still stopping droplets from spreading.
- Stay home when possible. Even though it takes pretty close contact to spread a sinus infection, staying home and getting rest can help you get back to your normal routine as soon as possible.
- Get better faster. Try using home remedies like over-the-counter medications or a neti pot to help speed up your recovery. In fact, one study in children showed that nasal irrigation was almost as helpful as antibiotics in clearing up sinus infections!
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Home Remedies For Sinus Infections: How To Cure A Sinus Infection Naturally
If you are experiencing mild symptoms or if sinusitis is not a regular problem for you, then you may want to consider a sinus infection home remedy. One of the primary ways to help reduce symptoms and eliminate the infection in the sinus cavities is to promote natural drainage of the mucus that is trapped in the sinuses. Most natural remedies involve finding ways to reduce inflammation and increase drainage. These include:
- Increasing water intake: The body needs a minimum level of fluids in order to properly function. Dehydration can prevent the body from healing naturally.
- Vapor or mist: Various types of humidifiers can provide enough additional moisture to break up small blockages in the sinus passage. Once these blockages are clear, the sinuses may drain naturally.
- Sinus rinse or neti pot: These solutions have grown in popularity over the past few years. They work on the idea that a purified saline solution can break up the sinus blockage, clean the sinus cavity, and clear out the infection. When used as directed, they may provide real relief for some patients. Before considering the use of a sinus rinse, the utmost care should be taken to follow all directions. In the case of a severe infection or the misuse of a product, they can cause more damage and potentially increase the severity of an infection.
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How To Distinguish Between Viral And Bacterial Sinusitis
Viral and bacterial sinus infections may be very similar symptomatically, and a sinus infection that begins as viral can develop into bacterial sinusitis. Much of the time, you can determine if a sinus infection is bacterial, by answering the below questions:
Has the sinus infection lasted for 10 or more days, without any improvement?
For the first three to four days of the infection, did you experience postnasal drip, face tenderness, and a high fever ?
After a cold which lasts five to six days and seems to get better, do symptoms start to get worse, with new face pain or headache, fever, and worsening postnasal drip or stuffiness?
If the answer is yes to one or more of these questionsyour sinus infection may be bacterial.
How Long Do Sinus Infections Last
Many variables affect the duration of sinus infections. Most last more than 10 days, but when a sinus infection lasts more than twelve weeks, it is considered chronic sinusitis.
If after 10 days, your symptoms have not improved, see your primary care doctor. You may have an acute sinus infection.If it lasts four weeks, you potentially have a sub-acute sinus infection that needs more aggressive treatment.
If symptoms last over 12 weeks, youre likely dealing with a chronic infection. After such prolonged symptoms, it can be difficult to distinguish sinus headaches from migraine headaches from severe allergies. After 12 weeks, diagnosing and treating the issue requires the medical expertise of an ENT.
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How Long Are You Contagious With A Sinus Infection
People with a viral sinus infection cant spread the illness to others, but they could pass along virus. catching this from someone who has it will make you more likely for an outbreak as well- contagious up until 2 weeks after symptoms go awayThe passage states that people experiencing Viral Sinonasal Disease cannot infect other individuals due in part because there are no signs or symptoms associated with being infected.
Can A Sinus Infection Last For Months
Sinusitis wont go away at the drop of a hat. It tends to linger and, if left untreated, it can last for months. Again, its best to take a trip to your doctors office if your symptoms last longer than one week.
Note that there is a chance that long-term sinus issues may be caused by allergens. If this is the case, then your sinus symptoms will likely last until you can escape the allergen or have the allergies treated.
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Sinus Infection Treatment In Children
Sinus infections affect children similarly.
If your child has a sinus infection, the aforementioned home remedies may help, but make sure to follow your pediatricians recommendations to treat your childs illness.
Note that various over-the-counter medications may not be suitable for your child:
- Babies 6 months old or younger should only receive acetaminophen for pain relief
- Children older than 6 months can receive acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Children should never receive aspirin and teenagers recovering from chicken pox or flu-like symptoms should not take aspirin because of the risk of a rare and severe illness called Reyeâs syndrome
Children younger than 4 years should not receive cough or cold products unless directed by a pediatrician .
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Will Surgery Cure Sinus Infections And Inflammation
If the sinus headache persists, and repeated courses of treatment fail to relieve the sinusitis, surgery may be an option. Otorhinolaryngologists may be able to widen the openings that allow the sinuses to drain and decrease the risk of recurrent inflammation that may obstruct the sinuses from draining.
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But Sometimes Antibiotics For Sinus Infections Are Needed
So how does one judge when it is appropriate to prescribe antibiotics for a sinus infection? There are several sets of official guidelines, which are all similar. When a patient has thick, colorful nasal discharge and/or facial pressure or pain for at least 10 days, they meet criteria for antibiotic treatment. If a patient has had those symptoms, but the symptoms seemed to start improving and then got worse again, then even if its been less than 10 days, they meet criteria for antibiotic treatment.
The authors, however, also suggest that doctors discuss watchful waiting with patients and explain that most sinus infections clear up on their own in one to two weeks, and its a safe option to hold off on antibiotics. The symptoms can then be treated with a cocktail of over-the-counter medications and supportive care, like nasal saline irrigation, nasal steroid sprays, decongestants, and pain medications.
Of course, many patients expect and demand antibiotics for sinus infections, and even those who are open to watchful waiting may hear about the rare but possible complications of things like, oh, brain abscess, and opt to treat.
In the case of my patient above, she met criteria for treatment. She weighed the watchful waiting option against the potential risks of antibiotics for her sinus infection, and chose the prescription. I can tell you from very close follow-up that she improved quickly, though in truth, we will never really know if she would have gotten better anyway.
How Can I Get Rid Of My Sinus Infection
On the topic of staying home, rest plays a key role in recovering from a viral sinus infection. Viruses must run their course, so getting lots of rest may help shorten the duration and severity of your illness. Its also important to drink plenty of water and to stay away from things that can further irritate your sinuses, like cigarette smoke, strong perfumes and airborne allergens.
While treatments cant cure a viral sinus infection, there are several steps you can take to reduce your symptoms as you recover. Try using a saline nasal spray to rinse your sinuses and an over-the-counter decongestant to help you breathe more easily. On average, the symptoms of a viral sinus infection last for about seven to 10 days.
While many sinus infections can be addressed with self-care measures, you should promptly seek medical care if:
- You have a fever
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Sinus Infection Medication For Viral Causes
Viral sinus infections are usually a symptom of the common cold or other viruses. When these viruses take a toll on your body, they sometimes spread to your sinuses and cause inflammation over time.
While you may be able to fend off a full-blown sinus infection with over-the-counter solutions, once youre at a certain point of inflammation, you might require stronger meds that only a doctor can prescribe.
Duration Of Sinus Infection
Acute sinusitis causes inflammation and symptoms that often develop quickly and last 7 to 10 days if caused by a viral infection. But the illness can last for up to 4 weeks if its caused by a bacterial infection.
Chronic sinusitis lasts for 12 weeks or more. This inflammation can continue for months or years more, and people often describe them as a never-ending cold.
Sinusitis may also be classified as:
- Subacute, in which symptoms last for more than 4 weeks but less than 12 weeks
- Recurrent acute, in which there are at least four acute sinus infection episodes within one year
- Acute exacerbation of chronic rhinosinusitis, in which symptoms worsen in a person with chronic sinusitis
But having symptoms of sinusitis doesnt always mean that you have a sinus infection.
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When Does Antibiotic Resistance Occur
Antibiotic resistance means that certain drugs no longer work for a specific type of germ. This can occur when bacteria change in response to exposure to antibiotics so that the antibiotics no longer work efficiently against the bacteria. Antibiotic resistance develops In an individual’s body, and then the contagious infection that is spread to other people In the community is also resistant.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to know if a sinus infection is bacterial, viral, or has other causes based on symptoms alone. Because viral sinus infections tend to improve in 5 to 7 days, healthcare providers will sometimes only prescribe antibiotics if your symptoms go on for longer than this. A sinus infection that persists for longer than a week or continues to get worse during this time period is more likely to be bacterial.
Is Your Sinus Infection Acute Or Chronic
A short-term sinus infection is often referred to as acute sinusitis. Most cases of acute sinusitis last about a week, but this type of short-term sinus infection can last up to four weeks. If you suffer from a sinus infection that lasts longer than 12 weeks despite treatment from your doctor, its considered chronic sinusitis.
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