How Do Sinus Infections Start
Sinusitis occurs when the lining of the sinus or nasal cavity becomes inflamed. What can start as inflammation in your sinuses from a respiratory infection, allergies or environmental pollutants can spark a sinus infection when the lining of the sinuses becomes inflamed and swollen, causing mucus to become trapped and germs to grow.
“Once you have a cold or upper respiratory tract infection, that virus can then settle into the sinuses and cause inflammation as well,” said Dr. Mas Takashima, an otolaryngologist and chair of Houston Methodist ENT Specialists. “About 95% of sinusitis is caused by a virus making it much more common than bacterial sinusitis. Viral sinusitis is also much more infectious as well.”
Certain conditions, such as having allergies, asthma or a respiratory infection, can make people more susceptible to getting chronic sinus infections, and it is important that these patients be evaluated to address the cause and not just the sinusitis symptoms.
“There are many causes of chronic sinusitis. “Patients with a weakened immune system are more prone to getting recurrent acute sinusitis,” explains Dr. Takashima. “Sometimes, however, the issue may be anatomy, such as a deviated septum , scarring from previous sinus surgery, or nasal polyps, which result from chronic inflammation in the nose. Once the polyps get to a certain size, they rarely regress on their own and they narrow the sinus drainage pathways.”
What Exactly Is Sinusitis
Congestion from colds or allergies provides a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria, which can lead to sinusitis. The dead giveaway that youre dealing with sinusitis, however, is a heavy feeling of pressure in your face. You can also blame sinusitis for a pounding headache that gets worse when you lean over, a toothache, and green or gray nasal drainage and postnasal drip. Many of our remedies mimic those we recommend for allergies and colds, since youre trying to attack many of the same issues, especially thick mucus and inflammation. Heres how to treat a sinus infection.
These seven ways to treat allergies could be just what the doctor ordered.
When To Use Antibiotics For Sinusitis
Though most cases of viral and bacterial sinusitis clear up quickly on their own, some dont. Some last longer than a week with no signs of getting better. They can cause a fever that lasts for a few days, severe facial pain or forehead headaches, or symptoms that get worse after they seem to improve.
In those cases, dont wait for the infection to heal on its own. Seek medical attention. If your primary care provider suspects a bacterial sinus infection, you will likely receive an antibiotic prescription. Remember to avoid antibiotics in the early days of an infection. Excessive antibiotic use can reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics in the future. The American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology recommends you only take antibiotics if symptoms last longer than a week. In the meantime, allow your immune system to do its job.
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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.
Give It Time And Treat As Needed
Acute sinusitis typically goes away on its own in seven to 10 days. If it lasts longer, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. Your doctor may also perform an allergy test if they suspect your sinusitis is a result of allergies.
Chronic sinusitis is different and treating it requires more time and patience. A combination of medications including nasal steroid sprays, oral steroids and mucus-thinning drugs may help ease symptoms. Since its not usually caused by bacterial infection, antibiotics arent the go-to treatment.
To diagnose this common condition, your doctor may use an endoscope to see inside your nose or he or she may order a CT scan or MRI to see if you have a deviated nasal septum or growths .
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Your Sinus Infection Natural Treatment
Obviously, you shouldnt use ALL of these remedies TOGETHER. Just choose a few of them, the most available to you, and youre set.
A few combinations you can try are:
Over The Counter Medications
For help alleviating sinus pressure and pain, try ibuprofen and a decongestant. Some medications include a combination of pain reliever and decongestant.
Mild antihistamines like Claritin and Allegra are helpful in moderation. Strong antihistamines like Benadryl are often way too drying. Be careful not to take antihistamines too often.
Even though you want your nose to stop running, too many antihistamines can make it more likely that youll get sinus infections in the future.
Drugs like Mucinex and Flonase can also be helpful in thinning the mucus in your nose and sinuses.
If you use Afrin, make sure you stop after three days. Though it can seem like a miracle drug, using it more than three days in a row can lead to something called rebound congestion. In other words, when you stop using the Afrin after continuous use, your nose becomes more congested than it was in the first place!
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What Causes Sinus Pain
Sinuses are hollow spaces in your facial bones that are lined with membranes that secrete mucus. Sinus pain is often a result of inflammation that blocks mucus from draining and leads to pain.
Sinus swelling can follow viral illnesses, including the common cold, or it can be due to mucus production from allergies or breathing in polluted air that leads to irritation. It can also happen if there are nasal blockages due to abnormal growths called nasal polyps or structural abnormalities, such as a deviated septum, that make you prone to congestion.
How To Get Rid Of A Sinus Infection Without Antibiotics
This article was medically reviewed by . Dr. Litza is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Wisconsin. She is a practicing Physician and taught as a Clinical Professor for 13 years, after receiving her MD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in 1998.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 75,464 times.
Sinusitis is an inflammation of paranasal sinuses most commonly due to an infection, underlying allergy or various autoimmune processes. The sinuses are small cavities in the skull that are normally filled with air. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the tissue that lines these cavities. In some cases, the swelling of this tissue blocks off the entry of the sinuses, trapping mucus and air inside them. This can cause pain in the cheeks, runny nose, and headache over the forehead region sometimes, it may lead to a secondary bacterial infection. Acute sinusitis resolves in 4 weeks whereas chronic sinusitis goes beyond 12 weeks and may keep on recurring for years. However, in most cases, sinusitis can be easily treated even without antibiotics.
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How Is Sinus Infection Diagnosed
Diagnosis depends on symptoms and requires an examination of the throat, nose and sinuses. Your allergist will look for:
- Discolored nasal discharge
- Bad Breath
If your sinus infection lasts longer than eight weeks, or if standard antibiotic treatment is not working, a sinus CT scan may help your allergist diagnose the problem. Your allergist may examine your nose or sinus openings. The exam uses a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and a light at one end that is inserted through the nose. It is not painful. Your allergist may give you a light anesthetic nasal spray to make you more comfortable.
Mucus cultures: If your sinus infection is chronic or has not improved after several rounds of antibiotics, a mucus culture may help to determine what is causing the infection. Most mucus samples are taken from the nose. However, it is sometimes necessary to get mucus directly from the sinuses.
Knowing what kind of bacteria is causing the infection can lead to more effective antibiotic therapy. A fungus could also cause your sinus infection. Confirming the presence of fungus is important. Fungal sinus infection needs to be treated with antifungal agents, rather than antibiotics. In addition, some forms of fungal sinus infection allergic fungal sinus infection, for example do not respond to antifungal agents and often require the use of oral steroids.
Sinus Infection Home Remedies Recommended By A Doctor
Philip Scolaro, MD
You probably dont give too much thought to your ability to breathe through your nose until you wake up with a sinus infection and that ability is gone!
Sinus infections, sometimes called acute sinusitis, can steal your joy pretty quickly.
A lot of viruses start with nasal symptoms. If you have a scratchy throat, congestion, and a runny nose, youve probably got a virus on your hands.
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Check If You Have Sinusitis
Sinusitis is common after a cold or flu.
Symptoms of sinusitis include:
- pain, swelling and tenderness around your cheeks, eyes or forehead
- a blocked nose
- a reduced sense of smell
- green or yellow mucus from your nose
- a sinus headache
- bad breath
Signs of sinusitis in young children may also include irritability, difficulty feeding, and breathing through their mouth.
The sinuses are small, empty spaces behind your cheekbones and forehead that connect to the inside of the nose.
Sinusitis causes the lining of the sinuses to swell up.
This stops mucus draining into your nose and throat properly, making you feel blocked up.
Sinus Infection Or Allergies
Sinusitis Symptoms , Allergies, and Common Cold are almost identical.
How can you tell which one is responsible for your misery?
Well, apparently a bacterial sinus infection lasts longer than the common cold. The mucus tends to thicken and discolor, and pressure and pain are involved in the horror story too.
Allergy Signs and Symptoms:
- Sneezing & stuffy or runny nostrils
- Clear or whitish nasal drip
- Itchy watery eyes
- Pain in the upper teeth
- Pressure or pain in upper cheeks, top of the nose, between eyes or forehead
- Stuffed nose, mucus is thick and yellow, greenish or grayish
- Symptoms last more than 10-14 days
But whatever it is, the following remedies can help either.
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Steer Clear Of Unnecessary Medications For Sinus Infections
People often come to the doctor looking to pull the trigger on antibiotics when they have sinusitis, Dr. Del Signore says. But if symptoms have occurred for less than a week and you dont have other serious symptoms or a comorbid condition, you do not need a prescription for this medicine, he says.
According to the National Institutes of Health, antibiotics are not effective against the viruses that typically cause sinusitis. Whats more, the NIH says, even those brought on by bacteria dont typically resolve faster with antibiotic treatment.
Meanwhile, the overuse of antibiotics has led to an increase in germs that are resistant to these crucial drugs. And antibiotics can have side effects, including stomach and bowel problems and fungal infections, the NIH says.
Similarly, children should not be given the drugstore decongestants that are typically a staple of home medicine chests.
According to a in the British Medical Journal, there is no evidence decongestants do anything to help nasal symptoms in children. Children younger than 6 should never be given these medicines, while those 6 to 12 should take them with caution, because any benefit is likely to be outweighed by side effects like upset stomach or drowsiness, the study authors conclude.
Whats Happening In My Body
Most sinus infections come from colds that start in the nose.
A lot of sinus infections are caused by coronaviruses.
These viruses replicate in the nose. Your immune system then kicks off an inflammatory response to help kill the virus. This can cause swelling in the sinuses, leading to your symptoms.
Unlike bacterial infections, viral infections dont respond to antibiotics and usually just need to run their course. But you dont have to take it lying down!
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What Are The Different Types Of Sinuses Near The Nose And Eyes
The paranasal sinuses are located in your head near your nose and eyes. They are named after the bones that provide their structure.
- The ethmoidal sinuses are located between your eyes.
- The maxillary sinuses are located below your eyes.
- The sphenoidal sinuses are located behind your eyes.
- The frontal sinuses are located above your eyes.
The biggest sinus cavity is the maxillary cavity, and it is one of the cavities that most often becomes infected.
There are different types of sinusitis:
- Acute bacterial sinusitis: This term refers to a sudden onset of cold symptoms such as runny nose, stuffy nose, and facial pain that does not go away after 10 days, or symptoms that seem to improve but then return and are worse than the initial symptoms . It responds well to antibiotics and decongestants.
- Chronic sinusitis: This term refers to a condition defined by nasal congestion, drainage, facial pain/pressure, and decreased sense of smell for at least 12 weeks.
- Subacute sinusitis: This term is used when the symptoms last four to twelve weeks.
- Recurrent acute sinusitis: This term is used when the symptoms come back four or more times in one year and last less than two weeks each time.
Do I Need Antibiotics For Every Sinus Infection
Many sinus infections are caused by viruses, the ones that cause the common cold. These types of infections are not cured by antibiotics. Taking an antibiotic for a viral infection unnecessarily puts you at risk for side effects related to the antibiotic. In addition, the overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, which may make future infections more difficult to treat.
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Best Methods To Effectively Treat A Sinus Infection
What is Sinus infection?
Thick mucus and inflammation are the two main symptoms of sinus infection. As it gets heavy by the day, you may feel the pressure on your face and experience headaches, especially when you lean forward. It happens when fluids build up in the air-filled pockets in your face and later becomes the breeding ground for the germs to grow and cause infection. A sinus infection, also medically known as rhinosinusitis, occurs when your nasal cavities become swollen, infected, and inflamed, causing a continuous nasal drip. There are two types of sinus infection Chronic and Acute.
Acute sinus infections usually last less than four weeks. It is typically due to existing colds and other respiratory illnesses. Sinus infection can be misleading as it overlaps the symptoms of another existing disease. If you recover from flu or any respiratory health problems, usually sinus infection stays. Hence, a chronic sinus infection lasts more than the acute stage and is recurring.
5 Best Ways to Treat a Sinus Infection
As the saying goes, Prevention is better than cure.. However, If its too late, and the symptoms start to appear, here are some remedies you can try to treat your sinus infection.
1. Use over-the-counter medication
2. Drink plenty of water
3. Apply warm compress on the face
4. Steam inhalation therapy
5. Essential oils
Related Resources For Sinus Infections
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This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.
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How To Treat Sinus Infections With Surgery
When other treatment methods fail, the final resort for sinusitis is surgery. In many cases, the goal is to fix defects in the sinuses. Reasons to undergo surgical treatment for sinusitis include:
- Narrowing of the sinuses caused by other reasons
- Presence of nasal polyps growths that block the sinuses and increase the risk of infection
- Recurrent sinus infections
- Small sinus drainage openings from birth
Use A Nasal Steroid Spray
Available over the counter, these sprays can help reduce the inflammation that adds to congestion. Sometimes the inflammatory reaction is self-perpetuating, Kern says. The 2015 sinus inflammation and congestion treatment guidelines from the American Academy of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Foundation advises using local steroid treatments and, if necessary, antibiotics to break the cycle.
And while nasal steroid sprays and saline sprays are both helpful, Kern stresses that other nasal sprays, such as decongestant sprays, can make the problem worse if you rely on them consistently.
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