When To See A Doctor About A Sinus Infection
On the other hand, a secondary acute bacterial infection may develop, so it’s advised that you see a doctor if your symptoms last more than 10 days or if your symptoms initially improve but then worsen again within the first 7 days.
See a doctor immediately if you experience:
- A persistent fever higher than 102 degrees F
- Changes in vision, including double vision
- Symptoms that are not relieved with over-the-counter medicines
- Multiple infections within the past year
- Sudden, severe pain in the face or head
- Swelling or redness around the eyes
- Stiff neck
Cold Vs Flu Vs Sinus Infection: Which Is It
Typical cold symptoms include
- Swollen sinuses, congestion, and mucus buildup
Cold symptoms last for around a week, on average. Colds most often start with a sore throat , followed by nasal and congestion issues. A cough often comes after, around the fourth or fifth day. Children are more likely to develop a fever with a cold, but adults can develop a slight one. Colds are contagious during the first few days and are less severe than other infections like the flu.
How to treat it: A cold is a virus, so it cant be treated by antibiotics. Over-the-counter medications can help alleviate symptoms, like a headache or congestion. Plenty of rest and fluids will help your body recover. If you dont see symptomatic improvement after a week, you should see your physician to ascertain whether you might need medical treatment for a different type of infection.
Typical flu symptoms include
- Chest discomfort or cough
- Sneezing, sore throat, stuffy nose
While many colds will emerge gradually, the flu usually hits you like a ton of bricks. Soreness and muscles aches are common, as are headaches, high fevers, and general malaise.
Typical sinus infection symptoms include
- Sinus pressure
- Poor sense of smell
When To See A Doctor
You dont necessarily have to see your doctor for your allergies. The exception is if youve never been diagnosed with allergies before or if your allergies seem to be getting worse.
You should also see your doctor if your OTC antihistamines arent working. They might recommend prescription medications instead. If your allergies have you particularly congested, they might also prescribe a .
Since sinus infections are caused by viruses, antibiotics dont generally help. However, if your symptoms worsen or last longer than two weeks, you should see your doctor for some relief.
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How To Treat Sinusitis
The best way to get over a sinus infection? Wait it out. A viral sinus infection the kind thats caused by, say, a cold that progresses usually gets better on its own within 14 days. To treat symptoms, the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery recommends the usual suspects: acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain and fever, to help you breathe easier and nasal saline sprays or whats known as sinus irrigation with a neti pot to help remove mucus.
If your sinus woes last longer than 14 days, however, you probably have a bacterial sinus infection, which is caused by a structural issue in your nose, a viral issue or an inflammatory/allergic issue, Iloreta says. One of these typically sets the stage for a bacterial infection, and theres a domino effect. At that point, you should see your doctor.
When To Seek Medical Care
See a doctor if you have:
- Severe symptoms, such as severe headache or facial pain.
- Symptoms that get worse after initially improving.
- Symptoms lasting more than 10 days without improvement.
- Fever longer than 3-4 days.
You should also seek medical care if you have had multiple sinus infections in the past year.
This list is not all-inclusive. Please see a doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.
Other conditions can cause symptoms similar to a sinus infection, including:
- Seasonal allergies
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How Do Providers Treat Fungal Sinusitis
Fungal sinusitis treatments vary. People with healthy immune systems may not need treatment for some types of fungal sinus infections. Invasive fungal sinus infections require immediate treatment.
- Antifungal medications: Some types of infection require medications to kill the fungus. Providers usually prescribe these drugs along with surgery.
- Corticosteroid medications: Your provider may prescribe steroids to reduce inflammation and relieve sinus pressure.
- Nasal wash: To treat saprophytic fungal sinusitis, providers remove crusts of mucus and wash out the sinuses. They usually use a saline solution to cleanse the sinus cavities.
- Surgery: Depending on the type of infection, your provider may do traditional surgery or minimally invasive endoscopic surgery. They insert a long, flexible tube with a camera into your nose and use tiny tools to remove the fungus, fungal ball and any damaged tissue.
When To Contact A Medical Professional
- Your symptoms last longer than 10 to 14 days or you have a cold that gets worse after 7 days.
- You have a severe headache that is not relieved by over-the-counter pain medicine.
- You have a fever.
- You still have symptoms after taking all of your antibiotics properly.
- You have any changes in your vision during a sinus infection.
A green or yellow discharge does not mean that you definitely have a sinus infection or need antibiotics.
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Untreated Sinus Infection Risks
Sinus infections often start to improve on their own after about 10 days. If your symptoms last longer without improving or if they worsen, a doctor may need to treat the underlying cause of the infection.
If a sinus infection affects a sinus cavity close to the brain, it can spread to the brain if left untreated. Though rare, an infection can also pass into the eye socket and cause vision changes or blindness. These types of infections are more common in kids.
While uncommon, a serious fungal sinus infection left untreated may pass into the bones.
Make an appointment with a doctor if you have severe symptoms, or if the following symptoms last longer than 10 days or keep coming back:
- facial pain
Because the cause of your sinus infection can affect your treatment options, its important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if youre looking for a doctor.
If you believe you have chronic or recurring sinusitis, consider asking for a referral to an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear, nose, and throat specialist. You may need imaging and other tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
An ENT specialist can take a culture of nose drainage to better understand the cause of an infection. The ENT specialist can also examine the sinuses more closely and look for any problem in the structure of the nasal passages that could lead to chronic sinus problems.
How To Tell The Difference Between Covid
Allergy and sinus symptoms can be similar to COVID-19 symptoms. An otolaryngologist explains how to tell them apart and when you should seek treatment.
Allergy season has become more complicated since the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have allergies or sinus problems, you may not be sure how to tell the difference between those symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms. Jessica Southwood, MD, otolaryngologist, offers expert guidance to help you better understand these three conditions.
Since sinus and allergy symptoms and COVID-19 symptoms can seem similar and have some overlap, it is important to familiarize yourself with the differences. That way, you and your provider can manage your health care appropriately.
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If You Have A Cold Do You Need To See A Doctor
The general medical wisdom around treating colds says that, in most cases, you dont need to see a doctor for a cold. However, some over the counter medications can help. These include NSAID painkillers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. And decongestant nasal sprays or cough syrups can also help take the edge off of symptoms.
However, if you have a very high or persistent fever, seeing a doctor may be a good idea. Influenza, a more severe illness, may sound like a cold, but its symptoms start much sooner. Instead of a multi-stage onset like you would get with a cold, influenza starts right away with a high fever and severe symptoms.
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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How Do I Know If I Have A Sinus Infection
Sinus infections are quite common. Sinus infections can be thought of as either viral or bacterial . When most individuals think of sinus infections, they are thinking of bacterial sinus infections but it is important to remember that sinus infections can be caused by viruses as well. In both cases, the symptoms of a sinus infection, as defined by the American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, are purulent nasal drainage that is accompanied by nasal obstruction and/or facial pain-pressure-fullness. According to guidelines, one must have discolored, purulent nasal drainage to meet the criteria of a sinus infection.
Viral sinus infections/”common colds” are more common than bacterial sinus infections. It has been estimated that the average adult will experience 2 to 5 colds per year. Viral sinus infections may produce similar symptoms as bacterial sinus infections: discolored nasal drainage with nasal obstruction and/or facial pain/pressure. However, the key distinguishing factor with respect to symptoms is that with viral sinus infections, the symptoms peak at around day 3 – 5 and begin to improve thereafter . This why it is important to think about both how long sinusitis symptoms have been ongoing as well as their trajectory when it comes to deciding whether the sinusitis is viral or bacterial.
Fever of above 100.5Â°F
Double sickening : when symptoms of a cold are getting better and then worsen as illustrated by the top blue dashed line in Figure 2.
Types Of Sinus Infections: Chronic Vs Acute
There are four types of sinus infections. These classifications depend on the length and frequency of the infection:
- Acute sinusitis.This type of sinus infection lasts only for a short time, defined by the American Academy of Otolaryngology as less than 4 weeks. This short-term infection is usually part of a cold or other respiratory illness. It may also be caused by a bacterial infection .
- Subacute sinusitis. A subacute sinus infection lasts between 4 and 12 weeks .
- Recurrent acute sinusitis. An acute sinus infection is considered recurrent if the infection returns four or more times within a year, with each infection lasting 7 days or more.
- Chronic sinusitis.Chronic sinus infections last for more than 12 weeks or continue to recur.
Many sinus infection symptoms are common in both acute and chronic forms. Seeing a doctor is the best way to learn if you have an infection, find the cause, and get treatment.
For cases of acute bacterial sinus infections, these symptoms last at least 10 days without improving, or they worsen within 10 days after seeming to improve. In this case, its important to talk with a doctor, such as a general practitioner or an ear, nose, and throat doctor , to get a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Learn more about the symptoms of a sinus infection below.
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When A Sinus Infection Wont Go Away
While its true that sinus infections sometimes clear on their own, antibiotics can sometimes shorten their duration.
Talk with your doctor if your symptoms dont subside within 10 days or if you have persistent fevers, facial swelling or neck stiffness. As with colds, make sure you hit the sheets and get enough rest and drink your H2O. Proper hydration and nasal irrigation can ease sinus infection symptoms.
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.
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Signs You Have A Sinus Infection
Posted in Nose | January 14, 2022
Are you experiencing pressure around your nose, forehead, and eyes? Does your face feel like its overly full?
These are some of the more common signs of having a sinus infection. Your sinuses are tiny, empty spaces that connect the inside of your nose.
Theyre found behind your forehead and cheekbones. When you have a sinus infection, the lining of your sinuses swells up. The swelling of the lining of your sinuses prevents mucus from draining down your throat and nose properly. Factors that increase your risk of developing a sinus infection are:
Other telltale signs of a sinus infection include:
Loss Of Smell And Taste
A side effect of nasal congestion is that you will find it challenging to smell or taste. Again, the swelling is to blame since the scents and aromas you are used to cant reach the top of the nose.
Sometimes, the inflammation presses down on the nervous system, impacting the signal that triggers taste and smell. Allergies and a cold can also cause these symptoms, which is why its vital to speak to a professional ENT doctor if youre concerned.
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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
How Can I Tell If I Have A Sinus Infection Cold Or Nasal Allergy
It can be difficult to tell the difference between a cold, allergies, and a sinus infection. The common cold typically builds, peaks, and slowly disappears. It lasts a few days to a week. A cold can transform into a sinus infection. Nasal allergy is inflammation of the nose due to irritating particles . Symptoms of a nasal allergy can include sneezing, itchy nose and eyes, congestion, runny nose, and post nasal drip . Sinusitis and allergy symptoms can happen at the same time as a common cold.
If you are fighting off a cold and develop symptoms of a sinus infection or nasal allergy, see your healthcare provider. You will be asked to describe your symptoms and medical history.
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Favorite Resources For Finding A Specialist
Through research, education, and advocacy, the American Rhinologic Society is devoted to serving patients with nose, sinus, and skull base disorders. Their website provides a valuable search tool to find a doctor, as well as links to other medical societies and resources that are useful for patients.
Can I Prevent Fungal Sinusitis
You may not be able to prevent a fungal sinus infection. If youre at a higher risk for fungal sinus infections, talk to your provider. They may recommend regular checkups to monitor your health and treat infections quickly. Talk to your provider if you:
- Have had a fungal sinus infection in the past.
- Have a health condition that weakens your immune system.
- Take immunosuppressant drugs or are getting chemotherapy treatments for cancer.
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Sinus Infection Treatment Options
While there are effective over-the-counter medications to alleviate the discomfort of nasal infections, prolonged treatment with nasal sprays, decongestants and antihistamines is not the best idea. Remember that some common medications are not recommended for people with high blood pressure, glaucoma or prostate problems. Certain OTC medications also interfere with drugs prescribed for chronic conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis and other immune system disorders.
Your doctor is your best source of information and treatment, especially if your symptoms recur regularly or return within a period of days or weeks. Consulting an allergist is a logical second step if your primary care physician concurs and the signs point to an allergic trigger for your sinus problems.
There are also some herbal remedies that have proven effective in alleviating symptoms. At the very least, if you’re inclined to try natural-based remedies, explore the options with your doctor. Even though most medical professionals will warn you against mixing the preparations yourself, herbal mixtures are regularly used in Europe and results have been verified for both acute and chronic infections.
Sinus irrigation and nasal rinses are also commonly recommended, but you should begin them only with professional guidance and monitoring.