Is It A Sinus Infection Or Cold
It can be difficult to tell the difference between a sinus infection and a cold as the symptoms can be very similar. Sinus infections often develop after a cold.
Sinusitis tends to last longer than a cold. Cold symptoms tend to get steadily worse, peaking at 3â5 days, then gradually get better. Sinus infections may last 10 days or more.
Some symptoms are more likely to be caused by sinusitis than a cold, including:
- swelling of the tissue in the nose
- green discharge from the nose
- a swollen or tender face
Unlike a cold, sinusitis can become chronic, which means it lasts longer than eight weeks. Chronic sinusitis causes swelling and irritation in the sinuses and usually develops after a person has had acute sinusitis. Sometimes the symptoms go away and then come back again.
Ongoing sinus symptoms â even if they get better and then come back â may indicate chronic sinusitis.
Sinus infections often go away on their own without medical treatment. There are, however, some things a person can do at home to relieve the bothersome symptoms.
To treat sinusitis symptoms with home remedies , try:
Avoid using decongestants on a long-term basis without talking to a doctor first because they can make congestion worse if used for too long.
- symptoms last longer than 10 days with no improvement
- fever lasts longer than 3-4 days
- the pain is very intense
- a person with a suspected sinus infection has a drugs that suppress the immune system, or organ failure
Treatment For Sinusitis From A Gp
If you have sinusitis, a GP may be able to recommend other medicines to help with your symptoms, such as:
- steroid nasal sprays or drops â to reduce the swelling in your sinuses
- antihistamines â if an allergy is causing your symptoms
- antibiotics â if a bacterial infection is causing your symptoms and you’re very unwell or at risk of complications
You might need to take steroid nasal sprays or drops for a few months. They sometimes cause irritation, sore throats or nosebleeds.
A GP may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist if, for example, you:
- still have sinusitis after 3 months of treatment
- keep getting sinusitis
- only have symptoms on 1 side of your face
They may also recommend surgery in some cases.
Mild Vs Severe Case Of Sinus Infection
You can tell the difference between a mild case and a bad case of sinus infection. Mild cases respond well to home remedies, while severe cases do not improve with various self-care methods such as resting, drinking water, eating soup, giving yourself a steam treatment, and performing nasal irrigation with a saline solution.
Symptoms of a sinus infection include ear pain, headaches, facial pain and tenderness, nasal discharge, nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, fever, and fatigue. If these symptoms persist or become intolerable despite treatment, or if they improve only to return, its time to seek medical assistance. Doctors usually recommend observing the symptoms for 10 days to see how they are progressing. If they persist for more than 10 days, the underlying cause of the sinus infection will need to be treated for symptom relief.
It is very likely that the infection-causing bacteria will need to be treated with antibiotics. However, a sinus infection could be a result of a viral infection such as a cold or respiratory illness, in which case antibiotics will not work. In addition, it could also be caused by allergies or anatomical defects. There are several possible causes of a sinus infection and a series of tests will need to be done to make a definitive diagnosis. Although very rare, an untreated sinus infection can spread to the brain and surrounding area, and cause abscesses or blood clots.
You May Like: How Often Can You Take Mucinex Sinus Max
Sinusitis : When Should I Call The Doctor
- a cold that lasts for more than 710 days without improvement
- a cold that seems to be getting worse after 7 days of symptoms
- symptoms of allergies that don’t clear with the usual allergy medicine
Also call if your child shows any other signs of worsening sinusitis, such as:
- pain or pressure in the cheeks or around the eyes
- swelling around the eye
Related Resources For Sinus Infections
* Prescription savings vary by prescription and by pharmacy, and may reach up to 80% off cash price.
Pharmacy names, logos, brands, and other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
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.
Recommended Reading: Can Sinus Infection Cause Extreme Fatigue
What Are Common Side Effects Of Sinus Infection Medications
The most common side effects of sinus infection medications differ by the type of medication you use. Decongestants tend to cause nervousness, insomnia, and a loss of appetite. Side effects of antibiotics include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Antihistamines and steroids can cause dizziness and sleep disturbances.
This is not an exhaustive list of sinus infection medication side effects. If you experience any adverse reactions from a medication or treatment, its always best to consult with your healthcare provider.
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:
- 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.
Also Check: Why Is My Sinus Pressure So Bad
Should You Visit A Specialist
If your sinus infection just wont go away or keeps coming back, it may be time to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist. An ENT treats conditions of the ear, nose, throat, head, face, and neck. It may be time to see an ENT if:
- Youve completed several courses of antibiotics without success
- Your doctor suspects nasal polyps or another blockage of the nasal cavity
- You have chronic sinusitis that lasts longer than 12 weeks
Living with a sinus infection is miserable and living with a sinus infection for weeks on end is worse. Contact your doctor or an ENT to get the treatment you need.
How Is Sinusitis Treated
Doctors may prescribe oral antibiotics to treat sinusitis caused by bacteria. Some doctors may recommend decongestants and antihistamines to help ease symptoms.
Sinusitis caused by a virus usually goes away without medical treatment. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and/or warm compresses can help reduce any pain. Over-the-counter saline solution is safe and helps wash the nose and relieve many symptoms caused by allergies, viruses, and bacteria.
Recommended Reading: Can Sinus Pressure Make You Dizzy
Risks Of Sinus Infections
Though most cases of sinus infections are uncomplicated, there are some risks associated with them.
This is mainly because the walls of the sinuses are thin.
They share blood vessels and lymph drainage pathways with the eyes and other parts of the central nervous system.
Some of the rare but serious complications associated with sinus infection include:
- Eye infection: If the sinus infection spreads to the eye, it can cause serious damage and vision difficulties.
- Brain abscess: This is a rare but life-threatening complication that results when the infection spreads to the brain.
- Meningitis: This is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It can be a very serious complication if not treated early.
- Mucocele: This is a benign tumor that can form on the sinus wall as a result of chronic sinus infection.
- Hyposmia: the nasal obstruction and inflammation of the olfactory nerve can cause a partial loss of smell.
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
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.
Don’t Miss: How To Relieve Sinus Congestion Pressure Points
Can Sinusitis Be Prevented
Simple changes in your lifestyle or home environment can help lower the risk of sinusitis. For example, during the winter, use a humidifier to keep home humidity at 45%50%. This will stop dry air from irritating the sinuses and make them less of a target for infection. Clean your humidifier often to prevent mold growth.
Other Remedies For Symptom Relief
Staying hydrated can help thin mucus to ease congestion.
Drinking hot liquids such as tea and broth may help relieve your symptoms. Breathing in moist air may also help relieve the discomfort that comes with nasal congestion. Try breathing in steam from the shower, a bowl of hot water, or a mug of tea.
If your voice is hoarse, rest it by avoiding yelling, whispering, and singing.
Placing a warm compress over the inflamed area can help reduce pressure and provide relief.
damages the natural protective elements of your nose, mouth, throat, and respiratory system.
If you smoke, consider quitting. Ask a doctor if you need help or are interested in quitting. Quitting may help prevent future episodes of both acute and chronic sinusitis.
Wash your hands frequently, especially during cold and flu seasons, to keep your sinuses from becoming irritated or infected by viruses or bacteria on your hands.
Using a humidifier during the cooler, dryer months may also help prevent sinus infections.
Talk with a doctor to see if allergies are causing your sinusitis. If youre allergic to something that causes persistent sinus symptoms, you will likely need to treat your allergies to relieve your sinus infection.
You may need to seek an allergy specialist to determine the cause of the allergy. The specialist may suggest:
- avoiding the allergen
- doing allergic immunotherapy
Keeping your allergies under control can help prevent repeated episodes of sinusitis.
Don’t Miss: How To Get Rid Of Sinus Allergy Headache
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.
Most Sinus Infections Dont Require Antibiotics
Ah, sinus infections. The New England Journal of Medicine published a clinical practice review of acute sinus infections in adults, that is, sinus infections of up to four weeks. The need for an updated review was likely spurred by the disconcerting fact that while the vast majority of acute sinus infections will improve or even clear on their own without antibiotics within one to two weeks, most end up being treated with antibiotics.
It is this discrepancy that has clinical researchers and public health folks jumping up and down in alarm, because more unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics mean more side effects and higher bacterial resistance rates. But on the other hand, while 85% of sinus infections improve or clear on their own, theres the 15% that do not. Potential complications are rare, but serious, and include brain infections, even abscesses.
Recommended Reading: Do You Take Amoxicillin For Sinus Infection
When Does A Sinus Infection Require Visiting An Urgent Care
Sinuses are cavities or spaces in the head that are interconnected by channels. Sinuses produce mucus, which keeps the nose clean and free of bacteria. However, the sinuses can become infected, and instead of pockets of just air, they become clogged with thick mucus.
A mild case of sinus infection can be treated at home. If what you have is a severe sinus infection, leave it to a medical professional to effectively treat it.
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
- 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 38.6Â°C , pain and tenderness in sinuses, and signs of a skin infection, such as a hot, red rash that spreads quickly . The commonly prescribed antibiotics are levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, and amoxicillin/clavulanate . 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.
Also Check: Sinus Meds For High Blood Pressure
Recommended Reading: Allergy Asthma And Sinus Center Hendersonville Tn
When Do I Really Need Antibiotics For A Sinus Infection
When do I really need antibiotics for a sinus infection? is a question many patients have when suffering from bothersome sinus and allergy problems. While sinus infections can be quite painful, antibiotics often do not help in treating the condition.
Sinus infections affect approximately 37 million people in the U.S. each year and can be caused by:
- Nasal polyps or deviated septum causing nasal obstruction
The majority of sinus infections are viral in nature, and antibiotics do not cure viral infections. Taking antibiotics for viral infections also will not:
- Keep you from being contagious to others
- Relieve symptoms or make you feel better
In order to distinguish a bacterial sinus infection from an infection caused by a virus or other contributing factor, your doctor will observe your symptoms and possibly conduct other tests, such as a CT scan or cultures.
Antibiotics are only effective on bacterial infections, and even in cases involving bacteria, the body can often cure itself of mild or moderate infections within a few days.
What Are The Types Of Fungal Sinusitis
Providers classify fungal sinus infections as invasive and noninvasive. Invasive infections can spread to other areas, such as the eyes and brain. Noninvasive sinus infections, the more common type, only affect the nose and sinus areas.
The types of noninvasive fungal sinusitis are:
- Allergic fungal rhinosinusitis: This is the most common type of fungal sinus infection. It results from an allergic reaction to fungi inside the nose. Untreated, the sinuses fill up with thick mucus and nasal polyps can form. People with asthma or allergic rhinitis are more likely to develop this condition.
- Fungal ball : Fungi build up in the sinuses and form a clump or ball. The fungal ball can get bigger and block the sinuses. Providers use surgery to remove fungal balls and clean out the sinuses.
- Saprophytic fungal sinusitis: This type of infection doesnt actually affect the nose tissue. Instead, fungus grows on crusts of mucus inside the nose. When providers remove the crusts, they remove the fungus, too.
Untreated, invasive sinus infections are life-threatening. The infection can destroy tissue inside the nose and move into the skull and brain. The types of invasive fungal sinusitis are:
Also Check: What Is Sinus Surgery Like
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.