How To Tell If You Have An Actual Sinus Infection
Even though we often say we have a sinus infection even if its just inflammation or an allergic response, there are symptoms of an actual infection that may be treatable with antibiotics. Nasal congestion and pain under the eyes or around the temples are, of course, main symptoms, but others include the loss of the sense of smell, green nasal discharge, mucus dripping down your throat, cough, fever, fatigue, sore throat, and even bad breath.
Sometimes, a sinus infection will clear up without intervention, but if you develop a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, have your symptoms for 10 or more days, notice that your symptoms are getting worse and are not improved by OTC medications, or you have multiple infections in a years time, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Symptoms Of Sinus Infections
Most often, sinus infections start as a common cold. The symptoms of both common cold and sinus infection are similar. However, you should consult a doctor if the symptoms persist for a longer time, mostly diagnosed as a sinus infection. There are two types of sinusitis, Acute and Chronic. Acute Sinusitis lasts only for four weeks or less. Whereas the symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis usually last for 12 weeks or more.
The most common symptoms of sinus infections are:
- Congestion of nasal paths.
- Dark yellow or green nasal discharge.
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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Natural Home Remedies For Chronic Sinus
A sinus infection occurs when the sinuses become inflamed and swell up because of a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. The infection can be acute or chronic lying behind your eyebrows, behind your cheekbones, and between your eyes are your sinuses air-filled cavities lined with a mucous membrane that filters and humidifies the air you inhale. This membrane produces and circulates mucus into your sinus and nasal passages to help remove dust, particles, and microbes from the air that you breathe. Tiny hair-like cells called cilia sweep the mucus to the openings that lead to the back of your throat, allowing it to slide down into your stomach.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Sinus Infection
The terms “sinus infection” and “sinusitis” are often used interchangeably, but sinusitis simply refers to the inflammation of the sinuses, with or without an infection. The medical term for sinusitis is rhinosinusitis because the illness affects the mucous membranes in both the sinuses and nose.
Sinus infections ultimately develop because of sinus and nasal blockages that result in sinus inflammation. There are several underlying causes of sinus blockage, including various environmental, anatomical, and genetic factors. But the most common cause of the blockage is inflammation or swelling of the nasal passages because of the common cold or allergies.
In healthy people, mucosal secretions are always moving and draining into the nasal cavity. But
when blockage occurs, mucus fails to drain properly, increases in thickness, and fills the sinus spaces.
The cilia also slow down their sweeping and cleaning, making it even harder for mucus to drain.
When the mucus is unable to drain, it becomes the perfect medium for microbes to grow out of control and cause an infection.
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What Tests Diagnose The Cause Of Sinus Infections And Sinusitis
Sinus infection is most often diagnosed based on the history and examination of a doctor. Because plain X-ray studies of the sinuses may be misleading and procedures such as CT and MRI scans, which are much more sensitive in their ability to diagnose a sinus infection, are so expensive and not available in most doctors’ offices, most sinus infections are initially diagnosed and treated based on clinical findings on examination. These physical findings may include:
- redness and swelling of the nasal passages,
- purulent drainage from the nasal passages ,
- tenderness to percussion over the cheeks or forehead region of the sinuses, and
- swelling about the eyes and cheeks.
Occasionally, nasal secretions are examined for secreted cells that may help differentiate between infectious and allergic sinusitis. Infectious sinusitis may show specialized cells of infection while allergic sinusitis may show specialized white blood cells of allergy . Physicians prescribe antibiotics if the bacterial infection is suspected. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections many physicians then treat the symptoms.
In addition, both rigid and flexible endoscopy has been used to obtain diagnostic material from sinuses. These procedures are usually done by an otolaryngologist under topical and local anesthesia. Occasionally, there may be a need to sedate the patient. Some investigators suggest that endoscopy specimens are comparable to those obtained by needle puncture.
What Increases Your Risk
Your risk of sinusitis increases if you have recently had a cold, another viral or bacterial infection, or an upper respiratory tract infection. Also, chronic nasal allergies can lead to sinusitis.
Sometimes a deviated septum, broken nose, or growths such as nasal polyps can make you more susceptible to sinus infections. Problems with nasal structure can prevent the proper flow of mucus from the sinuses into the nose.
Other factors that increase your risk for getting sinus infections include having asthma, smoking, air pollution, overuse of decongestant sprays, cold weather, rapid air pressure changes , and swimming in contaminated water. Also, using continuous positive airway pressure to treat sleep apnea may increase the risk of sinusitis.
Diagnosis Of Sinus Infection
To diagnose if you have a sinus infection, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and their timeframe, and give you a physical exam.
This exam may include looking in the nose for signs of polyps, conducting a transillumination test to identify inflammation, and tapping the sinus area to detect infections.
If you have a chronic sinus infection, your doctor may conduct additional tests, including:
- Rhinoscopy or nasal endoscopy to inspect your sinuses and see if your membranes are inflamed
- Mucus cultures to determine what is specifically causing your infection
- Allergy tests to determine what allergens may be triggering your chronic or recurrent infections
- CT scan to identify sinus abnormalities, such as polyps or a deviated septum
- MRI scan to see if you have a nasal tumor or fungal infection
If you have a serious fungal sinus infection, your doctor may order a bone biopsy to see if the infection has penetrated your bones.
Home Remedies And Lifestyle
At-home remedies can greatly reduce sinus infection symptoms, although they do not treat the infection.
Saltwater nasal irrigation is one of the treatments of choice for the symptoms of chronic sinusitis in adults, though studies show no benefit for children.Nasal irrigation is easy to do at home using a neti pot or other sinus rinse methods.
Using a steam vaporizer or a warm or cool mist humidifier may help keep your mucus thin. Inhalation of steam mixed with eucalyptus, chamomile, or peppermint may also help. While there’s no scientific research that these additives improve symptoms, you may find them soothing.
Hot vaporizers are a burn hazard and should not be used near your face or around children.
Other helpful tips:
- A hot shower may relieve pain, promote drainage, and open up the sinus cavities.
- Reduce facial pain and swelling by applying a warm compress to your face.
- Drink lots of fluids and get plenty of rest.
Why Are Antibiotics Important
Antibiotics are one of the most common classifications of drugs used to treat bacterial infections. Since their introduction to the world of medicine, they have helped treat countless people, especially those with infectious diseases.
Antibiotics are very crucial during surgeries and are used to prevent patients from getting any infections from the cut. Without antibiotics, there is a higher chance of blood poisoning and the more complicated surgeries would not be possible to perform.
What Are The Sinuses How Many Do We Have
A sinus is a hollow, air-filled cavity. For the purposes of this article, a sinus will refer to those hollow cavities that are in the skull and connected to the nasal airway by a narrow hole in the bone . Normally all sinuses are open to the nasal airway through an ostium. Humans have four pair of these cavities each referred to as the:
The four pairs of sinuses are often described as a unit and termed the “paranasal sinuses.” The cells of the inner lining of each sinus are mucus-secreting cells, epithelial cells, and some cells that are part of the immune system .
Functions of the sinuses include humidifying and warming inspired air, insulation of surrounding structures , increasing voice resonance, and as buffers against facial trauma. The sinuses decrease the weight of the skull. If the inflammation hinders the clearance of mucous or blocks the natural ostium, the inflammation may progress into a bacterial infection.
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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.
When Should You Call Your Doctor
- Pain in the face or upper teeth.
- Pain extending from the bridge of the nose to the lower eyelid.
- Headache that is not relieved by taking an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Fever of 38.3Â°C or higher.
- Nasal discharge that starts out clear and later becomes thick and discoloured .
- Cold symptoms that last longer than 10 days or get worse after the first 7 days.
- Mild or chronic pain in the face that lasts longer than a month, has changed, or has not been checked by a doctor.
- Not feeling any better within 3 to 5 days after starting antibiotics for your sinus infection.
If you are not sure whether you have a cold or a sinus infection, see the topic Facial Problems, Non-Injury.
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Chronic Sinus Infection Treatment
Chronic sinus infections typically have a more mysterious cause than acute infections people with chronic sinus infections often require life-long treatment to keep symptoms at bay.
In addition to the options above, treatment for chronic sinus infections may include:
- Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and changing home or work conditions to reduce exposure to environmental toxins and allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, or cockroaches
- Oral steroids
- Leukotriene modifiers, which reduce inflammation through a different mechanism than steroids
- Surgery to reopen sinuses affected by issues like nasal polyps and deviated septum
Recent research suggests other treatment options may also exist for chronic sinus infections, including:
- Nasal probiotics of the beneficial bacteria lactobacilli
- The drug dupilumab, derived from a human antibody, which the Food and Drug Administration approved to treat chronic sinus infections with nasal polyps in 2019
- A regime combining oral and intranasal corticosteroid irrigations
Runny Nose And Postnasal Drip
When you have a sinus infection, you may need to blow your nose often because of nasal discharge, which can be cloudy, green, or yellow. This discharge comes from your infected sinuses and drains into your nasal passages.
The discharge may also bypass your nose and drain down the back of your throat. You may feel a tickle, an itch, or even a sore throat.
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Inhale Menthol And Camphor
Another inhaled odor that can help open up sinus passages is menthol, which is an ingredient in popular ointments that are used specifically to treat a stuffy nose. These ointments also contain eucalyptus oil and camphor, which combine with menthol to create a powerful scent that immediately relieves sinus pressure. This ointment can be rubbed on your chest and under your nose to deliver its soothing benefits. Unlike eucalyptus oil, this ointment should not be placed in the mouth.
Which Specialties Of Doctors Treat Sinus Infections And Sinusitis
- Sinusitis is often first diagnosed by a general practitioner, primary care physician, or internal medicine physician. A pediatrician may diagnose sinus infections in children.
- If sinusitis is chronic or severe, you may be referred to an otolaryngologist, also called an ear, nose, and throat specialist . If your sinusitis is caused by allergies, you may be referred to an allergist.
- If you experience an emergency due to your sinusitis, go to the Emergency Department at the nearest hospital.
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What Is Sinus Infection
Medically known as rhinosinusitis, Sinus infection or Sinusitis is an inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses. Healthy sinuses are filled with air. But when they become blocked and filled with fluid, germs can grow and cause an infection. It occurs when your nasal cavities become infected, swollen, and inflamed. Sinusitis is usually caused by a virus and often persists even after other upper respiratory symptoms are gone. In some cases, bacteria, or rarely fungus, may cause a sinus infection.
What Tests Diagnose Sinus Infections And Sinusitis
The diagnosis of a sinus infection is made based on a medical history assessment and a physical examination. Adequately distinguishing sinusitis from a simple upper respiratory infection or a common cold is important.
- Usually, sinusitis caused by bacteria will need antibiotic treatment to cure the infection.
- Upper respiratory tract infections and colds are viral illnesses so antibiotics have no benefit, and it may cause antibiotic resistance, which limits your body’s ability to cure future infections.
CT scan: In most cases, diagnosing acute sinusitis requires no testing. When testing is indicated, a CT scan will clearly depict all the paranasal sinuses, the nasal passages, and the surrounding structures. A CT scan may indicate a sinus infection if any of these conditions is present:
- Air-fluid levels in one or more sinuses
- Total blockage in one or more sinuses
- Thickening of the inner lining of the sinuses
- Mucosal thickening can occur in people without symptoms of sinusitis. CT scan findings must be correlated with a person’s symptoms and physical examination findings to diagnose a sinus infection.
Ultrasound: Another noninvasive diagnostic tool is ultrasound. The procedure is fast, reliable, and less expensive than a CT scan, although the results are not as detailed.
If your symptoms symptoms persist despite therapy, you may need a referral to an otolaryngologist or ENT . The doctor may:
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Types Of Chronic Sinusitis Or Chronic Sinus Infections
While acute sinusitis often involves an infection, chronic sinusitis does not. Sometimes, the long-term illness is caused by an infection that hasn’t cleared up properly, but most often the exact cause of chronic sinusitis isn’t known.
But clinicians may categorize chronic sinusitis into one of three types depending on the features present.
The most common type of the illness, chronic sinusitis without nasal polyposis, involves swelling and inflammation of the mucous membranes by various non-polyp factors, such as allergies or irritation and infections.
Chronic sinusitis with nasal polyposis, on the other hand, involves nasal polyps that are large enough to clog the sinus. It’s not always clear why some people develop these polyps and others dont.
In chronic sinusitis with fungal allergy, people experience a strong allergic reaction to fungi in the air, which causes their mucous membranes to produce a thick, dense mucus.
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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