When Should You See A Doctor About Your Sinus Infection
Most sinus infections stay viral and resolve on their own. But if home remedies arent helping, if your drainage turns yellow or green, or if your sinus infection sticks around for more than a week or 10 days, it might be time to give your ENT doctor a call.
Still have more questions about whether your sinus infection is contagious? Not sure if youre dealing with a viral or bacterial infection? Contact ENT Associates of Lubbock today, and we can help you figure out your next steps!
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When A Sinus Infection May Be Dangerous
A sinus infection occurs when the tissue lining in your sinus cavity becomes swollen or inflamed. When your sinuses are blocked, they become a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses that can lead to an infection. Thats why its best to visit your doctor at the first signs of a sinus infection. Otherwise, it could lead to a chronic condition. Heres how to know if your sinus infection has developed into something more dangerous:
Will I Need To Make Lifestyle Changes To Deal With Sinus Infections
If you have indoor allergies it is recommended that you avoid triggersanimal dander and dust mites, for exampleas well as take medications. Smoking is never recommended, but if you do smoke, strongly consider a program to help you quit. Smoke can also trigger allergies and prevent removal of mucous by the nose. No special diet is required, but drinking extra fluids helps to thin nasal secretions.
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Should I Go To Work With A Sinus Infection
If you have a new or ongoing cough, a high temperature or you’ve noticed a change in your sense of smell or taste, you may have coronavirus .
A sinus infection occurs when your sinuses become inflamed due to infection. Most sinus infections are caused by a virus, but they can be caused by bacteria.
Similar symptoms to a sinus infection can also be caused by allergies, pollutants, an infected tooth, or fungal infections.
Usually, you can only spread your illness to others if it is caused by a contagious infection.
In this article, you will learn about the symptoms and treatment of sinus infections, how contagious they are, and if you should go to work when you have one.
The following information applies to adults.
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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How Would Doctors Diagnose A Sinus Infection Vs Covid
The determination as to whether you have COVID or a sinus infection should be made by a doctor. If the doctor suspects COVID-19, he or she will test you for the virus by swabbing your sinus cavity and sending the sample to a lab.
When doctors suspect a sinus infection, they look inside the nose for redness and swelling and will ask you about the color and frequency of your nasal discharge. They will check to see if your face is tender and ask you questions about how long youve been suffering from the illness.
Dr. Chase suggest there are three primary criteria that indicate a sinus infection:
We dont usually diagnose a sinus infection until somebody has been sick for seven to 10 days. Typically, with that youre going to have the classic tenderness in your sinuses, he says. Usually youre going to have a yellow/green runny nose thats pretty consistent throughout the day, and youre going to have a fever. You want to see those three things before you diagnose somebody with a sinus infection.
With COVID-19, the duration of the illness is different, along with the sinus tenderness, and discharge. If youre worried about your symptoms and are suffering from pain, fever, headaches, or any other clinical symptoms, its a good idea to consult your doctor.
Donts: What Not To Do With Sinusitis
Of course there are certain activities you should do when you have a sinus infection and things that you should not do when you have a sinus infection. We recommend avoiding the following activities to have a speedy recovery.
- Dont fly in an airplane: The pressure on an airplane can increase the pain in your ears and nasal cavities. If you can avoid it, we suggest not flying when suffering from sinusitis.
- Dont drink alcohol: You shouldnt consume alcohol with a sinus infection. Alcohol dehydrates the body and can cause your nose and nasal cavities to swell when dehydrate, in turn exacerbating your symptoms.
- Dont swim in a pool: chlorine in swimming pools can irritate your nose, especially in higher doses. If suffering from sinusitis, avoiding returning to the pool until youve fully recovered from the infection.
- Dont breathe irritating materials or smoke:avoid breathing in harmful materials or fumes when you have a sinus infection. You should not smoke cigarettes or cigars. And, you should avoid high pollution areas. Try to breathe in clean, fresh air. This will be the best for your sinuses and your recovery.
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What Causes Sinus Infections
The most common cause of sinusitis are viral respiratory infections that lead to swelling and irritation of the sinuses, the most frequent being the common cold.
Other ways to contract a sinus infection include:
- Nasal polyps, or small growths in the lining of the nose, that may be asymptomatic but block the normal sinus pathways
- Any structural change to the nasal cavity, such as a deviated septum or history of sinus or nose surgery
- Hay fever causing swelling to the noses lining, usually during common allergy seasons
While sinus infections are common and most adults will experience one over their lifetimes, there are outside influences that can lead to more frequent cases of sinusitis.
Risk factors for an increased chance of a sinus infection include:
- A lasting cold
- Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
- A broken nose or other structural problems within the sinuses
- A weak immune system, or starting the cycle of a new drug that weakens the immune system
Is It Possible To Prevent Sinus Infections Or Sinusitis
Currently, there are no vaccines designed specifically against infectious sinusitis or sinus infections. However, there are vaccines against viruses and bacteria that may cause some infectious sinusitis. Vaccination against pathogens known to cause infectious sinusitis may indirectly reduce or prevent the chance of getting the disease however, no specific studies support this assumption. Fungal vaccines against sinusitis are not available, currently.
If you are prone to recurrent bouts of a “yearly sinus infection” it may be important to consider allergy testing to see if this is the underlying cause of the recurring problem. Treatment of the allergy may prevent secondary bacterial sinus infections. In addition, sinus infections may be due to other problems such as nasal polyps, tumors, or diseases that obstruct normal mucus flow. Treatment of these underlying causes may prevent recurrent sinus infections.
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Where Can I Find Treatment For My Sinus Infection
If your sinus infections are causing you to experience unpleasant symptoms, one of our sinus specialists will examine you and get you on the road to recovery. Contact us today for a consultation, or get started by filling out the schedule appointment form right on this page.
We look forward to helping you get the treatment you need to start breathing better and living better.
Which Types Of Doctors Treat Sinusitis And Sinus Infections
- Many sinus infections can be treated by your primary care physician or an Internal Medicine doctor.
- However, it is not unusual to consult an ENT specialist, infectious disease specialist, or an allergist or immunologist.
- With some complex sinus infections, a surgeon who specializes in sinus surgery may be necessary to consult.
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When To See A Doctor About Your Sinus Infection
If you’re dealing with a sinus infection, it’s generally best to wait a week and treat your symptoms with over-the-counter remedies before seeing a doctor. Why? In general, medical guidelines advise waiting to make sure symptoms like these aren’t a sign of a viral infection to avoid the chance of antibiotic resistance. If symptoms persist after a week, then the condition may be bacterial and a doctor can often prescribe antibiotics.
However, in the case of additional symptoms, such as a persistent headache or bad fever, you should see a doctor right away, as this might be a sign of something more serious .
Treating Sinusitis Restores Energy
Acute sinusitis resolves on its own as your body clears the virus or bacteria that is causing your symptoms. Chronic sinusitis requires comprehensive evaluation and treatment. The good news? Effective treatment restores energy in patients with sinusitis-associated fatigue.
The treatment we recommend depends on the underlying cause. If polyps are the cause, we may suggest surgery to remove the polyps and restore nasal airflow and drainage.
For patients with allergies, a treatment plan to manage your allergies should improve your sinusitis symptoms. You can rely on our skilled providers at Southern ENT to provide a thorough evaluation and recommend the most appropriate treatment to help you get relief from chronic sinusitis.
Sinusitis can make you feel miserable. If youre struggling with symptoms, visit us at Southern ENT to get to the root of the problem and on the road feeling better. To get started, the office nearest you to schedule a visit.
Southern ENT is a premier provider of ear, nose, and throat services in southern Louisiana. Our offices are located in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia, and Youngsville, Louisiana.
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The Link Between Sinus Infections And Bronchitis
Reviewed by Theresa H. Care Delivery Manager & Family Nurse Practitioner
When a cold strikes, it can make you feel miserable. Whats more, a stuffed up head and nose can quickly progress leading to other uncomfortable symptoms including facial pain, sinus pressure, post-nasal drip and chest congestion. In fact its not uncommon for a cold to develop into a sinus infection or bronchitis.
But what exactly is a sinus infection? Are sinus infections and bronchitis linked? Why are some people more prone to developing sinus and bronchial infections? And, most importantly, if you have a sinus infection or bronchitis, what can you do to feel better?
How Do Sinus Infections Spread
Sinusitis generally spreads in the same way a cold or flu does.
Particles and droplets containing viruses become airborne after a person coughs or sneezes, and those germs then spread to others.
These viruses can also be passed by physical touch. Surfaces like doorknobs can become a carrier for a virus if a sick person touches it before a healthy person does.
Thats why actions like washing hands with soap and water, covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and avoiding close contact with infected people are important in avoiding getting sick.
But even with the most stringent precautions, sinusitis is common enough that infections still spread fairly easily.
How long are sinus infections contagious? When caused by a viral infection, a person will generally feel symptoms for 7-10 days.
In these cases, they will be contagious with the underlying virus for two weeks, from a few days before they have symptoms until after the symptoms are gone.
Allergic sinusitis, and bacterial sinus infections that occur after a virus, are not contagious to others.
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How Can You Tell If You Have Chronic Sinusitis
Does it feel like your sinus infection just wont quit? If you experience at least two of the following for 12 weeks or more even though youve been treated it may be chronic sinusitis:
- A stuffed nose
- Discharge of mucus or postnasal drip
- Pain or pressure in your face
- Problems with smell
Chronic sinus infections can be triggered by colds but are typically caused by long-term inflammation. Sometimes, when treatments to control that inflammation fail, people with chronic sinusitis need surgery to drain their mucus.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection
So if you’ve ever had a sinus infection before, you know they feel pretty miserable: “The more common symptoms are nasal congestion, discolored mucous from the nose, post nasal drainage, facial pain, facial pressure, decreased smell and taste,” says Dr. Duyka. “Some patients also experience ear pain, upper tooth pain, sore throat, bad breath, and/or cough.”
But here’s some quick advice: That whole thing about the color of your snot telling you whether or not you have a bacterial or viral infection? That’s a myth, Donald Ford, MD, a family medicine physician at the Cleveland Clinic, tells Health. “The green-yellow color of mucus that can develop is a byproduct of our own white blood cells, which we use to fight any kind of infection, viral or bacterial, so we can’t tell the cause from the color of the mucus,” she says. “When the mucus is thick and dark it usually suggests some mild dehydration, and you should increase fluid intake and use lots of saline spray to keep the mucus thin.”
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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.
Too Sick To Work Expert Weighs The Decision
Youre sniffling, sneezing, and your nose is running like a faucet. Its about that time of year when people everywhere are faced with the question: am I too sick to work?
I see a lot of patients whose jobs and stress make them feel torn between staying home and going in when theyre sick, says primary care physician and infectious disease specialist Robin Wigmore, MD. But viral infections like the common cold and flu are contagious. Its important to consider your coworkers health as well.
Before packing up your tissues for the office, make an informed decision by asking yourself some simple questions:
How long have I been feeling sick?
You are most contagious in the first 48 hours of a viral illness, says Wigmore. This is often even before you begin feeling symptoms.
This means staying home at the first sign of symptoms can reduce the risk of spreading your illness, while also giving you time to rest, stay hydrated and take care of yourself.
Are my symptoms contagious?
Typically, illnesses are passed through viral particles we spread into the air by coughing or sneezing. Certain cold and flu germs can survive on surfaces such as countertops, doorknobs and phones for up to 24 hours.
As a general rule, if you have a wet cough, a runny nose, fevers or aches, you should probably stay at home, Wigmore says.
If youre unable to see your primary care doctor quickly, urgent care centers can also treat the flu and other illnesses.
Heres a closer look at symptoms:
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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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