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How Long Does Sinus Congestion Last

What Happens If You Let A Sinus Infection Go Untreated

How Can You Tell When Nasal Congestion Is Sinusitis? AMITA Health

A sinus infection that is left untreated can not only make life miserable it may develop into chronic sinusitis. If an infection isnt cared for properly, it could also result in some potentially serious complications. These types of issues are rare but they can occur:

  • Sinus infections, if left untreated, can spread to the eyes, often causing redness, irritation, and/or swelling. In more severe cases, they can even cause reduced, blurry, or complete loss of vision.
  • Severe sinusitis may need to be treated with antibiotics administered through an IV.
  • A CT scan may be required to determine the seriousness of the infection.
  • In very rare cases, brain abscesses or meningitis may result from a severe and untreated sinus infection.

A More In Depth Explanation Of Sinusitis

Acute sinusitis causes the cavities around your nasal passages to become inflamed and swollen. This interferes with drainage and causes mucus to build up.

With acute sinusitis, it might be difficult to breathe through your nose. The area around your eyes and face might feel swollen, and you might have throbbing facial pain or a headache.

Acute sinusitis is mostly caused by the common cold. Unless a bacterial infection develops, most cases resolve within a week to 10 days.

In most cases, home remedies are all thats needed to treat acute sinusitis. However, persistent sinusitis can lead to serious infections and other complications. Sinusitis that lasts more than 12 weeks despite medical treatment is called chronic sinusitis.

How Long Does Sinus Congestion Last With A Cold

What Is the Duration of Nasal Congestion? If your nasal congestion is caused by a cold or flu, it will most likely linger as long as the cold or flu or even longer. If your nasal congestion is caused by allergies, it may stay longer depending on how long you have been exposed to that allergen. The more often you are exposed to something, the more likely you are to develop an allergy to it.

During a cold or flu, your body goes through many changes to help it recover faster. One way it does this is by closing off certain parts of your body through inflammation. This includes your nose and throat. Because of this closure, you may not be able to breathe through your nose or swallow properly. Your doctor will be able to tell you how to care for yourself during this time frame so you can get back to normal as soon as possible.

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What The Treatment For Sinus Infections

In order to eradicate the infection, youll need an antibiotic.

Some people continue to experience a lingering sinus infection even after antibiotics. Sinuses are considered a closed cavity. Removing infection from a closed cavity can require more prolonged antibiotic usage compared to infections that occur in an open cavity .

A sinus infection might require 2-4 weeks of antibiotics plus additional methods to encourage drainage of the sinuses. For a sinus infection to clear completely, we often recommend saline sprays, topical steroid sprays , and decongestants in addition to an antibiotic.

How You Can Treat Sinusitis Yourself

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You can often treat mild sinusitis without seeing a GP by:

  • getting plenty of rest
  • taking painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
  • avoiding allergic triggers and not smoking
  • cleaning your nose with a salt water solution to ease congestion

If you have a high temperature or you do not feel well enough to do your normal activities, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you feel better.

  • Boil a pint of water, then leave it to cool.
  • Mix 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda into the water.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Stand over a sink, cup the palm of 1 hand and pour a small amount of the solution into it.
  • Sniff the water into 1 nostril at a time. Breathe through your mouth and allow the water to pour back into the sink. Try not to let the water go down the back of your throat.
  • Repeat the first 5 steps up to 3 times a day until your nose feels more comfortable.
  • You do not need to use all of the solution, but make a fresh solution each time you clean your nose.

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    Will My Sinus Infection Clear Up On Its Own

    Topics in this Post

    The first few weeks of the common cold aren’ fun, but the acute sinusitis that can develop afterwards doesn’t help either. Unfortunately, sinus congestion and the common cold go hand in hand. Acute sinusitis frequently is caused by the common cold, but also can be caused by allergies and bacterial and fungal infections.

    When To Visit An Ent

    You may opt to visit an ENT if your sinus infection symptoms last more than one month. However, when a lingering sinus infection after antibiotics lasts more than 12 weeks, its definitely time to see a specialist.

    If your doctor has treated you with antibiotics, saline, steroid sprays, antihistamines, and decongestants and youre still not better, youve entered into a confusing area. You need a thorough exam of your sinus pathways with a fiberoptic scope and a CT scan to properly diagnose the problem.

    If at any point youre not sure whats going on and your primary care doctor isnt sure whats causing the symptoms, see an ENT for a more specialized exam.

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    Corticosteroid Drops Or Sprays

    Corticosteroids, also known as steroids, are a group of medications that can help to reduce inflammation.

    If you have persistent symptoms of sinusitis, your GP may prescribe steroid nasal drops or sprays to help reduce the swelling in your sinuses. These may need to be used for several months.

    Possible side effects include nasal irritation, a sore throat and nosebleeds.

    When To Go To A Doctor For A Sinus Infection

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    An untreated sinus infection can turn into a chronic infection, so its important to see the doctor if your symptoms arent improving on their own. We recommend making an appointment with your doctor if:

    • Your symptoms havent improved after two days of at-home treatment
    • You have cold symptoms that last for 10 days
    • You have a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
    • Youre experiencing severe pain in the upper part of your face or your teeth
    • You have facial pain from the bridge of your nose to your lower eyelid
    • You notice thick and discolored mucus
    • You have mild face pain for a month or longer

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    How Do I Stop Coughing From Sinus Drainage

    Coughing while youre still experiencing sinus drainage can be annoying and tiring, but you can help alleviate it with over-the-counter treatments that act as post-nasal drip cough treatments. You should always consult your doctor before adopting any long-term treatment, but some of the most accessible remedies to get rid of post-nasal drip include:

    Although a cough lasting more than eight weeks is considered chronic, some people who havent gotten to the root cause of their cough may develop a chronic cough for years.

    Duration Of A Sinus Infection

    The two different types of sinus infections are acute and chronic. Acute sinus infections typically last 10 days to a few weeks. Chronic sinus infections, however, can last 12 or more weeks. In many cases, acute sinusitis is associated with a respiratory infection. In comparison, chronic sinusitis is often caused by environmental factors including allergies or smoking.

    When a patient has one or two sinus infections a year, it is considered to be normal. Patients who experience more than four sinus infections annually should schedule an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat surgeon to determine if there are other underlying causes.

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    Can I Prevent Sinusitis

    There is no sure-fire way to prevent sinusitis. But there are some things that might help.

    • Donât smoke, and avoid other people’s smoke.
    • Wash your hands often, especially during cold and flu season, and try not to touch your face.
    • Stay away from things you know youâre allergic to. Talk to your doctor to see if you need prescription medicines, allergy shots, or other forms of immunotherapy.

    If your sinus problems keep coming back, ask your doctor about the pros and cons of surgery to clean and drain the sinuses.

    What Causes A Doggie Sinus Infection

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    In people, a sinus infection can be the result of a common cold, allergies, smoke, and dental infections. The same causes can lead to a sinus infection in your furry pal, since sinus infections in people and pets are similar. If your pooch has developed a sinus infection, it may have been caused by one of the following issues:

    • Viral. Viral infections are the most common cause of acute sinusitis in dogs. Canine distemper, canine adenovirus types 1 and 2, canine influenza, and canine parainfluenza are usually to blame. Supportive care is the only option for managing these viral conditions.
    • Bacterial. Primary bacterial infections are rare in dogs, but they may result from Bordetella bronchiseptica infections. Typically, secondary bacterial infections develop with a viral infection, so antibiotics will help resolve the bacterial component, but not the viral aspect.
    • Dental disease. Sinus infections can develop if a tooth root abscess extends into the maxillary recess. Extraction of the abscessed tooth is typically the best course of action followed by antimicrobial treatment. Prevent dental problems from occurring in your furry pal by brushing their teeth and seeing your vet for regular cleanings.
    • Allergens or environmental irritants. Allergic sinusitis may occur seasonally, such as with pollen production, or year round, like with house dust and molds. Fortunately, there are many effective allergy medications available for dogs.

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    Can Sinusitis Cause Death

    Chronic sinusitis can spread to the eyes, blood, and brain, and, in rare circumstances, cause death. For that reason, its important to take instances of sinusitis that wont go away very seriously. If you have a persistent sinus infection, make sure you follow your doctors instructions regarding your antibiotics and of course, get plenty of rest.

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    When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider About Sinusitis

    Though many cases of acute sinusitis can improve with little to no treatment, you should call the doctor if you experience any painful symptoms. An antibiotic may be needed for a bacterial infection.

    If you find that your sinuses do not feel better after 10 days, symptoms have gotten worse, or you have symptoms that initially improved and then worsen five to six days later , you should contact your healthcare provider. Symptoms that continue after about four weeks may mean you have subacute or chronic sinusitis. If you develop other types of symptoms, such as severe eye swelling, or you are just not sure what you should do next, call your provider.

    If you have facial pain, and you have healthy teeth, you can try things like nasal rinses and warm, wet washcloths on your face to see if you find some relief. If so, and if your symptoms go away in about 10 days, you probably have had acute sinusitis and it has gotten better on its own. If not, and you continue to feel ill after three or four weeks, call your provider.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/04/2020.


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    When To Call Your Doctor

    A common question you may start to ask yourself is When should I worry about nasal congestion? and When is it time to call my doctor? Experts indicate the following signs may warrant a call to your doctors office.10

    • If the symptoms of your infection last beyond ten days you may even experience feeling better but then take a turn and begin to feel worse
    • If you develop a fever that is greater than 100.6
    • If you develop a sore throat
    • If the discharge in your nose becomes colored green or yellow or contains blood
    • Loss of smell and possible taste
    • Possible confusion and blurry vision
    • When you have exhausted all medications without any relief

    Managing your nasal congestion symptoms are key in preventing the worsening of your infection. Find out more about how Brillia Healths Cold-Flu Recovery can help you target your symptoms in a gentle and highly effective way without harsh synthetic chemicals, harmful side effects, or contraindications. Explore more resources on how to stay healthy all year long with lifestyle tips on how to boost your immune system at the Brillia Health blog.

    Medications For A Sinus Infection

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    Sometimes, your sinus infection wont go away without care from your primary care doctor or otolaryngologists . Most bacterial sinus infections can be cured with the help of antibiotic medicines a type of medicine that kills bacteria. Antibiotics will help you feel better after a couple days, but its important to finish the entire amount that your doctor prescribed.

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    Worsening Of Medical Conditions

    • Risk factors: History of serious side effects from other pain relievers | Stomach problems | Liver disease | Kidney disease | Heart disease or high blood pressure | Breathing problems | Thyroid disease | Diabetes | Glaucoma | Urinary conditions

    Dont take Advil Allergy and Congestion Relief if you have any of the risk factors listed above unless your provider tells you its safe to do so. Taking Advil Allergy and Congestion Relief can worsen your condition and cause serious side effects. Make sure your provider knows about all medical conditions you have or have had in the past before starting Advil Allergy and Congestion Relief.

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    Two Types Of Sinus Infections

    Determining how long your sinus infection will last is dependent on what type you are experiencing. Acute sinusitis lasts for less than four weeks. Chronic sinusitis can last for more than 12 weeks.

    The majority of sinus infection sufferers will see their symptoms start to resolve after about 10 days. While one to two infections a year is considering normal, more than four requires medical attention.

    If you are experiencing chronic sinusitis with a single infection lasting three months at a time, there may be other factors to consider. Environmental factors such as smoking or allergies are common causes of developing chronic sinusitis.

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    Are There Any Other Precautions Or Warnings For This Medication

    Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

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    What Happens If A Sinus Infection Is Left Untreated

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    For some lucky people, sinus infections may go away if left untreated. Rest and hydration will certainly help with this.

    For others, however, sinusitis wont go away until you seek treatment. If this is the case, a sinus infection left untreated may cause further complications .

    When sinusitis spreads to areas around the eyes, you may experience redness and swelling, which can reduce vision. The most severe form of sinusitis reaching the eye is called cavernous sinus thrombosis and can actually cause blindness. It is treated by antibiotics and drainage of sinus fluids.

    Sinusitis that reaches the brain may cause meningitis and brain abscesses.

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    What Is The Fastest Way To Get Rid Of Sinusitis

    When you have a sinus infection, you often have to go through your day in pain and in a fog. Sinusitis, or infection of the sinuses, is incredibly common, but many people suffer through it rather than get it treated. At Asthma Allergy Centre in Tigard, McMinnville, or Beaver, OR, we use a variety of sinus management treatments to reduce the inflammation and immune response that are likely behind your sinus problems. Check out on how to get rid of sinusitis.

    Is The Risk Of Rebound Congestion A Reason To Avoid Nasal Decongestant Sprays Altogether

    When your nose is stuffed up, there’s nothing like the immediate relief a decongestant spray can provide. But, with a side effect like worsening congestion, might these sprays be more harm than good?

    “No,” says Dr. Ahmed. “There’s definitely a role for these decongestant sprays that contain oxymetazoline or phenylephrine, especially if you have a cold and you’re really congested. I think the key is to make sure you look at the spray as a short-term solution, not a long-term one. Unfortunately, the labels don’t really emphasize the risk of taking these products beyond three days, so knowing this in advance can help give you the upper hand.”

    Remember: Using a nasal decongestant spray for more than three days can actually worsen your congestion.

    “I see these sprays as a great way to get a good night’s sleep when your symptoms are really overwhelming and you need rest, especially considering that congestion is one of those symptoms that gets worse when you lay down,” says Dr. Ahmed. “I don’t mind you using a nasal decongestant spray at night for the two or three nights that your congestion is at its worst. After that, though, it’s time to consider the other ways to relive it, such as oral decongestant, sinus rinses and nasal steroid sprays.”

    Plus, if your congestion is more chronic in nature, it’s likely also time to consult a doctor about the root cause of your congestion and the best way to manage it.

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