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.
Who Is At Particular Risk Of Developing Sinus Headaches
- Those who have nasal polyps or bone spurs
- Those who participate in swimming or diving on a regular basis
- Those who have a history of allergies or asthma
- Those who climb to high altitudes or fly frequently
- Those who have a cleft palate or deviated septum
Lifestyle changes, as well as certain medications, may help prevent a sinus headache. Whether your sinus headache was caused by a cold, sinus infection, or other factor, we will work diligently to create an effective treatment plan so you can get your life back on track.
At the Center for Allergy and Asthma of Georgia, we provide compassionate care to patients suffering from sinus headaches. From pain management treatments to simple lifestyle changes, our Georgia allergists will help you create a personalized treatment plan. Contact ustoday to schedule an appointment.
What Causes A Sinus Infection
A sinus infection can be caused by several different things including:
Seasonal allergies A deviated septum: The septum is the part of the nose that divides it into right and left nostrils. Some people have crooked or deviated septums, which makes them more susceptible to sinus infections. Nasal polyps Respiratory tract infections
Sinus infections may be acute or chronic .
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What To Do About Sinus Headaches
Headaches are one of the most common medical complaints for both women and men. Like any other medical issue, headaches require a clear understanding of whats causing painful symptoms in order to make sure the treatment is both effective and safe.
Unfortunately, lots of issues can cause headaches and that makes it hard to know how to treat them. In fact, even though sinus headaches are a major cause of painful symptoms, theyre frequently misdiagnosed as tension headaches or migraines.
With practices in Salt Lake City, Murray, Draper, Tooele, and West Jordan, Utah, ENT Specialists makes it easy for women and men to get the treatment they need for sinus headaches and their symptoms. Heres how to tell if your headaches might be related to your sinuses and what we can do to help you feel better.
How Barometric Pressure Affects Your Body
With all that pressure around us, why arent our bodies being crushed? Because, although we are not aware of it, our bodies are actually pushing back against the pressure in the air. And as our bodies move up and down along the column, the pressure in our bodies must also adjust to match. If our bodies move quickly up and down the column, we often feel the effects of those changes. For example, imagine driving through the mountains, or flying in an airplane. During these actions, our bodies are moving from a high-pressure area to a low-pressure area. Outside our bodies, the air pressure has decreased, but inside our bodies, the air pressure hasnt had time to adjust and is still pushing out with a force that matches the previous, higher air pressure.
The build-up and release of this extra pressure are what causes our ears to pop! After our ears pop, the difference forces pushing out from the body and pushing in towards the body become closer to being equal in pressure. This phenomenon exemplifies only one way that changes in barometric pressure can affect the body. Changes in barometric pressure have also been linked to changes in the frequency of migraines, the severity of joint pain, and the level of blood pressure.
What Are Sinus Pressure Headaches
Your sinuses are a series of connected air-filled cavities behind your cheeks, forehead, and nose. Sinus pressure headaches occur when the lining of your nose swells and obstructs your sinuses.
Typically, sinus pressure headaches start behind your eyes, forehead, or cheeks and radiate out, creating a feeling of fullness, pressure, and pain in the front of your face. Sometimes the pain can even radiate down into your teeth. Sinus headaches can also trigger other types of headaches, like migraines, causing a throbbing or pulsing sensation in your head.
Anything that causes swelling in the nose might cause a sinus headache, such as:
- A cold or the flu
- An upper respiratory tract infection
Some people may be more likely to experience sinus pressure headaches than others because of the natural anatomy of their sinuses. Each sinus cavity is like a room with a window. If the window gets shut, then the pressure or fluid in the room builds.
People with persistent sinus problems have naturally small windows. If the lining around their sinus openings swells, the window shuts, and they experience all the unpleasant symptoms associated with sinus pressure headaches.
If you have small windows and are more prone to getting sinus headaches, dont worry! There are still ways to find relief.
Are Sinus Infections Contagious
A sinus infection caused by a virus is contagious. When you sneeze or cough, the virus can travel in droplets of moisture through the air. If another person breathes in the virus, they might develop a cold that turns into a sinus infection. In order to limit the spread of sinus infections, remember to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. And wash your hands frequently to avoid leaving the virus on objects that you touch.
If your sinus infection is caused by a bacteria or fungus, its not contagious. But you should still wash your hands frequently and cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.
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Where Are The Sinuses
The sinuses are hollow spaces or cavities in the bones around the nose. Your sinuses make mucus or fluid. The mucus drains into your nasal cavity and down the back of your throat. This keeps your nose moist and gets rid of dust, allergens, and germs.
There are four pairs of sinuses connected to your nose:
- in the cheekbones on each side of your nose
- above your eyes near the forehead
- between the eyes and the bridge of your nose
- behind your eyes
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Sinus Headache: Signs Symptoms And Treatment Options
Around 70% to 80% of the population in the United States experience headaches, with 50% experiencing a minimum of one headache each month, 15% a minimum of one a week and 5% every day. The occurrence of headaches increases dramatically when you’re in your 20s. After that it levels off until you reach between the age of 40 through 50 years old, after which it reduces.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
Tips To Prevent Barometric Pressure Headaches
The best way to prevent barometric pressure headaches is to be aware of your headache patterns. The sooner you recognize the headache coming on, the faster you can treat or prevent it.
If your doctor has prescribed medication for your headaches, be sure to take it at the first sign of the headache to prevent a severe migraine. You may notice head pain or other symptoms, like ringing in your ears, aura, or nausea.
Take care of your body in other ways, too. Try these:
- Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Drink a minimum of eight glasses of water per day.
- Exercise most days of the week.
- Eat a balanced diet and avoid skipping meals.
- Practice relaxation techniques if youre experiencing stress.
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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.
What Causes Sinusitis
Sinusitis can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungus that swells and blocks the sinuses. A few specific causes include:
- The common cold.
- Nasal and seasonal allergies, including allergies to mold.
- A deviated septum. The septum is the line of cartilage that divides your nose. A deviated septum means that it isnt straight, so that it is closer to the nasal passage on one side of your nose, causing a blockage.
- A weak immune system from illness or medications.
For infants and young children, spending time in day cares, using pacifiers or drinking bottles while lying down could increase the chances of getting sinusitis.
For adults, smoking increases the risks for sinus infections. If you smoke, you should stop. Smoking is harmful to you and to the people around you.
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When To See A Doctor
In most cases, episodic headaches will go away within 48 hours. If you have a headache that lasts more than 2 days or that increases in intensity, see a doctor for help.
If youre getting headaches more than 15 days out of the month over a period of 3 months, you might have a chronic headache condition. Even if youre able to manage the pain with OTC medications, see a doctor for a diagnosis.
Headaches can be a symptom of more serious health conditions, and some do require treatment beyond OTC medications and home remedies.
Consider Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
Unlike balloon sinus dilation, which follows the natural contours of your sinus cavities and expands the openings, endoscopic sinus surgery completely removes blockages from your sinuses.
This type of sinus surgery is an outpatient procedure performed under general anesthesia. We complete the entire surgery through the nose with an endoscope, eliminating the need to make any incisions in the skin.
During the procedure, the ENT doctor inserts the endoscope into your nose. Then, they carefully remove anything that they see keeping the sinuses from draining, including mucous membrane, polyps, tumors, or bone.
Balloon sinus dilation is a little like taking those windows in your sinus cavities and turning them into doors, while endoscopic sinus surgery is like completely remodeling the house.
It takes most people about a week to recover from endoscopic sinus surgery, and its not usually painful. You can expect to experience some nasal congestion. We recommend irrigating your nose once or twice daily to speed up your recovery time.
Not everyone with acute or chronic sinus pressure headaches needs endoscopic sinus surgery. But if you have ongoing congestion and infection that isnt improving, it might be right for you.
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Relieve Your Sinus Headaches
While some headaches respond well to rest and stress management, sinus headaches are caused by a medical problem affecting your sinus cavities. That means that in order to relieve those painful symptoms, you need to see an ENT doctor like the team at ENT Specialists.
If youre having sinus headaches or headaches associated with facial pain or allergies, we here at ENT Specialists can help. Call the office or book an appointment online to learn about the techniques and treatment we use to help our patients find relief.
Sinus Headaches Vs Other Headaches
Sinus headaches are frequently misdiagnosed as tension headaches or migraines, but theyre actually very different, beginning with their cause. Sinus headaches happen when the tissues in your sinus cavities get irritated and inflamed . The swollen tissues prevent your sinuses from draining properly, resulting in a buildup of fluid.
Some sinus headaches are associated with sinus infections, colds, or allergies. Unless these sinus-related issues are treated, your painful symptoms arent going to go away.
The pain from sinus headaches is primarily caused by congestion or swelling inside your sinuses. As the sinuses fill up, they cause feelings of pain behind your eyes, forehead, nose, and cheeks. Symptoms can occur on one side or both sides of your face.
In addition to head pain, sinus headaches cause some other symptoms that can distinguish them from other types of headaches, including:
- Pressure in the forehead or behind the cheeks
- Yellowish or greenish nasal discharge
- Pain that worsens when you bend forward
Some people with sinus headaches also have pain or aching in their upper jaw.
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How Do I Know If My Headache Is Migraine Or Sinus Headache
So, how do you know if your headache is migraine and not sinus? Go beyond the nasal and sinus congestion and the facial pain and pressure look for a headache associated with the inability to function normally at work, school, home or social functions, nausea, sensitivity to light and triggers such as weather change, menstrual cycle, and stress . Significantly, it is commonly thought that weather change often causes sinus headache when weather change is a common trigger for migraine.
You can also ask yourself the following questions from the ID Migraine Questionnaire developed by Dr. Richard Lipton of Albert Einstein College of Medicine:
- In the past three months, how disabling are your headaches? Do they interfere with your ability to function?
- Do you ever feel nausea when you have a headache?
- Do you become sensitive to light while you have a headache?
If you answer yes to two of the above three criteria, migraine is likely 93% of the time. If you answer yes to all three, a migraine diagnosis is 98% likely.
The American Migraine Foundation is committed to improving the lives of those living with this debilitating disease. For more of the latest news and information on migraine, visit the AMF Resource Library. For help finding a healthcare provider, check out our Find a Doctor tool. Together, we are as relentless as migraine.
How Are Sinus Headaches Treated And Prevented
Once a doctor concludes that you’re suffering from a sinus headache, specifically, treatment options vary. Dr. Namdar says using nasal saline rinses, such as the Neti Pot, can help. He adds, “Some people use anti-inflammatory Flonase.” Additionally, picking up an air purifier for your home can help you if you suffer from sinus headaches, and if a sinus headache is stemming from a bacterial infection, a course of antibiotics can be used to treat the problem.
As for the pain element, which is the real point of this article, Dr. Namdar says patients can take over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen for the headache part of their sinus headaches.
While you can’t necessarily prevent a sinus headache if you have sinusitis, you can do your best to prevent viral infections in the first place. Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often is a good start, along with trying not to touch your nose, mouth, and eyes when your hands are unclean. Eating enough vegetables and getting enough sleep can also strengthen your immune system, which means you’re less likely to get sick.
But the main point here: Definitely get to the doctor if you suspect you have a sinus headacheonly a medical professional can diagnose one, or let you know that something else might be going on and recommend the next steps to take in getting that checked out, as well.
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What Kind Of Doctor Or Other Healthcare Professional Treats Sinus Headache
- Frequently, sinus headaches are managed by primary care physicians including those that specialize in internal medicine, family medicine, or pediatrics.
- For complicated cases, an ear, nose, and throat specialist may be consulted.
- With unusual infections, such as fungal infections, a specialist in infectious diseases may be consulted.
Things To Know About Sinus Headache
- Sinuses in the face are air spaces that develop from the nasal passages and help with air humidification and mucus secretion.
- Inflammation of the sinuses may decrease the ability of the mucus to drain, increasing pressure within the sinuses, which can cause a sinus headache. Common causes of inflammation include allergies, infections, or colds.
- Symptoms of a sinus headache include pain in the face that may worsen with bending down or straining
- pain that radiates to the forehead, temple, or cheek
- runny or stuffy nose
- persistent cough.
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