Chronic Sinusitis And Sinus Headaches
Sinusitis happens when the sinuses or cavities around the nasal passages become swollen. The sinuses can become inflamed if you have an infection or because of an allergic reaction. The symptoms usually go away within a couple of weeks, but some people experience longer or recurring sinus infections. If you have chronic sinusitis, you could be dealing with symptoms such as nasal discharge, congestion, and pain or sinus headaches for many months.
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What Are The Treatments For Sinusitis
Typically, you wont need antibiotics for sinusitis even if the condition is caused by bacteria, it could clear up without it. With that said, sometimes highly persistent sinusitis symptoms may require antibiotics.
Antibiotics usually are prescribed for a three to 28-day course of treatment, depending upon the medication itself. If you receive an antibiotic, you may feel much better before youve run the course but dont stop until the entire bottle is emptied. That will make it less likely that your symptoms recur. Keep in mind that the sinuses are deep cavities in the bones where the blood supply is more limited so the course of antibiotics may run a little longer in severe or chronic sinusitis.
Antibiotics treat the underlying infection caused by sinusitis but may do little to alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of the illness. You can take over-the-counter medications that will help lessen the stuffy, drippy, headache, and pain of sinusitis.
Some of the other treatments to relieve sinus symptoms include:
- Antihistamines block the inflammation caused from an allergic reaction like hay fever Decongestants can be taken over-the-counter, in the form of nasal sprays, liquids, and tablets
- Nasal corticosteroids may prevent and calm the inflammation
- Over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen can relieve pain
- Saline nasal sprays to rinse out the nasal passages
What Can I Do To Find Relief From A Sinus Infection
- Place a warm compress over your face to help relieve pressure.
- Breathe in steam by placing a towel over your head and leaning over a bowl or sink full of hot water to allow the steam to relieve congestion. WARNING: Make sure that the water is not too hot because steam can cause burns.
- Rinse the sinuses. Dr. Takashima recommends using the squeeze bottle over the neti pot for effective nasal irrigation.
- Keep the nasal passages moist by using a saline nasal spray.
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Surgical Treatment For Chronic Sinusitis
Although medical therapy and lifestyle tweaks are the first-line treatment for chronic rhinosinusitis, some people may fail to respond to optimal therapy. In such cases, Ear, Nose Throat and Allergy Specialist performs a surgery to widen up the blocked sinuses and remove any trapped mucus or polyps.
Other situations in which surgery could be considered include:
- When chronic sinusitis symptoms do not respond to the medical treatments listed above, and CT scan of your sinuses reveals complete blockage of one or more sinuses.
- When nasal polyps fail to shrink enough with steroids.
- When a severe deviation of the septum completely blocks your nose or hinders sinus drainage.
- When theres a suspicion of allergic fungal sinusitis. The sinuses in allergic fungal sinusitis get clogged with thick, dense mucus that is hard to remove in any way other than surgery.
Irrigate To Relieve Sinus Pressure
Salt water irrigation is the best way to cleanse the nose and sinuses this can help prevent or relieve sinus pain. You can use an over-the-counter saline nasal spray, but I recommend using a sinus rinse bottle, neti pot, or bulb syringe irrigation kit that you can get at the drugstore, advises Das.
Try this commonly-used, easy-to-make nasal irrigation solution with your own sinus irrigation kit: Fill a clean 8-ounce glass with distilled or sterilized lukewarm water. Do not use tap water unless it has been boiled for at least 1 minute . Add 1/2 teaspoon of non-iodized salt and a pinch of baking soda. And be sure to clean all equipment and make a fresh batch of solution each time you use your kit.
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Diagnosing Swollen Nasal Passages
To help determine the cause of your swollen nasal passages, your doctor may use a variety of diagnostic methods. The doctor will make a diagnosis based on your symptoms and an examination of your nose. Other diagnostic tests used to determine the cause of your swollen nasal passages include the following:
- Nasal endoscopy: An endoscope is a thin and flexible tube with a fiber-optic light that gets inserted into your nose, and it allows doctor to see inside your sinuses. This method is also called a rhinoscopy.
- Imaging studies: A computerized tomography scan or magnetic resonance imaging will reveal the health of your sinuses and nasal region to help identify any physical obstructions or deep-seated inflammation that an endoscope may have a problem detecting. It can also help pinpoint the location and size of your sinuses to evaluate the degree of inflammation.
- Sinus and nasal cultures: Nasal and sinus cultures may help pinpoint the cause of swollen nasal passages such as fungi or bacteria. That said, cultures are usually not needed for diagnosing chronic sinusitis.
- An allergy test: If your swollen nasal passages are due to allergies, an allergy test may be recommended such as a skin-prick test or an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
H2o: A Natural Solvent
One of the most powerful solvents on earth is nothing more than pure water. Water is used in many applications as a thinner, cleaner, and diluter. When it comes to a sinus infection, water can be used in much the same way to thin mucus, clean the sinuses, and dilute a blockage. Natural sinus treatments may involve the use of liquid, mist, or vaporized water.
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When Should I Go See The Doctor About A Sinus Infection
It is pretty easy to care for most sinus conditions on your own. However, if you continue to have symptoms that concern you or if your infections continue to happen, your primary care doctor might suggest you see a specialist. This could also happen if your CT scan shows something that does not look right.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Sinusitis, or swelling of the tissues of the sinus cavities, is a common condition with many causes, including viruses and bacteria, nasal polyps or allergies. Signs and symptoms may including facial pressure, fever and tiredness. You can treat symptoms at home by resting, taking over-the-counter products and increasing your fluid intake. Make sure you contact your healthcare provider if symptoms do not improve, if sinusitis happens often or if you have any symptom that worries you.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 06/04/2020.
How Can I Prevent Sinusitis
Some of the home remedies used to treat sinus infections symptoms may help prevent sinusitis. These include rinsing your nose out with salt water and using medications that your provider might suggest, such as allergy medications or steroid nasal sprays.
You should avoid things you are allergic to, like dust, pollen or smoke, and try to avoid sick people. Wash your hands to reduce your chance of getting a cold or flu.
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How Do You Diagnose Chronic Sinusitis
The presence of two or more of the listed symptoms for at least three months raises the suspicion of a chronic sinus infection.
In such cases, we will evaluate you to confirm the diagnosis. This involves applying pressure on your sinuses to elicit tenderness. If the tenderness is positive, your sinuses are likely to be inflamed. We will then take a peek into your nose using a small flexible scope, and check for nasal polyps, pus-filled discharge, and deviated septum.
We may also recommend nasal endoscopy. This is an office procedure that enables us to view the interior of your nose and sinus passages. Its done with an instrument called an endoscope, which is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and a light. We will pass this scope into your nose and sinuses to look inside. Nasal endoscopy allows us to detect any swelling and polyps, as well as collect discharge from the infected area. This can help spot the cause of your infection and whats the best way to treat it.
If need be, we may also perform imaging in the form of a computed tomography to look for further problems.
Allergy skin tests look for allergic causes and to check for problems within your immune system may also be done.
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.
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Over The Counter Medications
For help alleviating sinus pressure and pain, try ibuprofen and a decongestant. Some medications include a combination of pain reliever and decongestant.
Mild antihistamines like Claritin and Allegra are helpful in moderation. Strong antihistamines like Benadryl are often way too drying. Be careful not to take antihistamines too often.
Even though you want your nose to stop running, too many antihistamines can make it more likely that youll get sinus infections in the future.
Drugs like Mucinex and Flonase can also be helpful in thinning the mucus in your nose and sinuses.
If you use Afrin, make sure you stop after three days. Though it can seem like a miracle drug, using it more than three days in a row can lead to something called rebound congestion. In other words, when you stop using the Afrin after continuous use, your nose becomes more congested than it was in the first place!
Treat Sinus Pain With Humidity
“Dry, thick mucus in your nose and sinus passages can form crusts that block sinus drainage and trap viruses and other particles. Increasing humidity and getting more fluid into your body can help your mucus thin out and get moving again,” says Dr. Das. Some natural ways to get your sinuses draining and relieve sinus pressure include drinking plenty of fluids using a humidifier avoiding cold, dry air taking plenty of steamy showers and drinking a cup of hot tea or soup.
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How To Get Relief From Sinusitis
If youve ever struggled to find relief from a sinus infection, youre not alone. Its a condition that impacts over 30 million Americans a year. In the US alone, sinusitis accounts for roughly 70 million days of decreased activity each year.
And, it seems that everyone is looking for a quick fix so they can get on with their daily activities. That being said…
Common Causes Of Chronic Sinusitis
- Nasal polyps: These tissue growths can block the nasal passages or sinuses.
- Deviated nasal septum: A disfigured septum may restrict sinus passages
- Certain medical conditions: The complications of conditions such as cystic fibrosis, HIV and other immune system-related diseases.
- Respiratory tract infections: Infections in your respiratory tract can inflame and thicken your sinus membranes and block mucus drainage.
- Allergies: Inflammation may persist due to allergies.
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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
Sinus Infection Vs Covid
Some sinus infection and COVID-19 symptoms may overlap. Both illnesses can cause a fever, headaches, nasal congestion, fatigue or a sore throat. Symptoms unique to COVID-19 include body aches, nausea, shortness of breath and vomiting. Learn the difference between the cold, flu and COVID-19 based on your symptoms.
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What Are The Common Home Remedies To Treat Sinus Infection
The nine common home remedies to treat sinus infection include:
- At-home vaporizer or humidifier: It may help relieve sinus symptoms. Sometimes a hot shower may also relieve sinus symptoms.
- Use of lavender essential oil, peppermint essential oil, and eucalyptus oil while breathing steam may relieve nasal pressure.
- A warm compress over the nose and forehead helps relieve sinus pressure.
- Use of a syringe or a neti pot to stream a solution of non-iodized salt, baking soda, and lukewarm distilled water through the nostrils to help keep nasal passages clean. Also, a patient may choose a product from a pharmacy that is already prepared and ready to mix from packets.
- Drink warm water to stay hydrated.
- Drinking warm ginger tea with turmeric may help relieve nasal congestion.
- Drinking warm water with apple cider vinegar may help in fighting a sinus infection. Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and antifungal properties and is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, calcium, and magnesium which aids in treating sinus infection. It works by loosening up the mucous and clearing nasal passages.
- Eat a balanced diet that also includes spices, and a diet rich in vitamin C and minerals help build immunity to fight infection.
- Sleep with the head elevated at night or keeping a humidifier running at home to avoid an arid environment may help relieve sinus pressure.
Check If You Have Sinusitis
Sinusitis is common after a cold or flu.
Symptoms of sinusitis include:
- pain, swelling and tenderness around your cheeks, eyes or forehead
- a blocked nose
- a reduced sense of smell
- green or yellow mucus from your nose
- a sinus headache
- bad breath
Signs of sinusitis in young children may also include irritability, difficulty feeding, and breathing through their mouth.
The sinuses are small, empty spaces behind your cheekbones and forehead that connect to the inside of the nose.
Sinusitis causes the lining of the sinuses to swell up.
This stops mucus draining into your nose and throat properly, making you feel blocked up.
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How Can You Tell If You Have An Acute Sinus Infection
Its tempting to label every nasal issue as a sinus infection, but thats not always the case. Common symptoms of acute sinusitis include:
- Headaches and sometimes, toothaches
Many people believe that green snot means you have a bacterial sinus infection, curable only with antibiotics. Not true. Sage-colored mucus is common with viral infections and allergies and can happen when snot sits in your face for a while before being expelled.
A trip to your doctor may be necessary if you have a bacterial infection, but it can often be difficult to distinguish between that and a viral infection. If your symptoms last longer than 10 days or improve before worsening again, call your HCP.
If you suddenly experience any of these symptoms, its a sign to seek medical attention immediately, even if theyve been present for fewer than seven days:
- Abrupt vision changes
- Continual high fever
Use Decongestants But Only Temporarily
You can definitely pop some Sudafed tablets or even spritz some Afrin into your nose, but beware: you cant do this forever.
In an acute infection, a decongestant can be useful, but Afrin can become addicting if used for more than a few days and oral decongestants used regularly can have cardiovascular effects, says Dr. Thompson. These are targeted for short-term use.
Also, FYI, patients with high blood pressure shouldnt use these OTC products, and people who are sensitive to stimulants, like caffeine, might have trouble sleeping when using them, per Dr. Takashima.
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How You Can Treat Sinusitis Yourself
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
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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