Sore Throat And Hoarse Voice
Postnasal drip can leave you with a raw and aching throat. Although it may start as an annoying tickle, it can get worse.
If your infection lasts for a few weeks or more, mucus can irritate and inflame your throat as it drips, resulting in a painful sore throat and hoarse voice. Frequent coughing and throat clearing can make a hoarse voice worse.
What Are The Differences Between Sinus Infections And Allergies
There are two different kinds of sinus infections, viral and bacterial.
Viral infections are far more commonthey cause nearly all sinus infections. These types of infections can be uncomfortable, but do get better on their own.
Bacterial sinusitis is less common, and generally starts as a viral infection .
Once the sinuses and nasal passages are swollen and inflamed, bacteria can grow and gradually infect the lining of the facial and nasal cavities, leading to more severe and long-standing symptoms.
Allergies can cause a wide spectrum of symptoms.
They occur as a result of the immune system reacting to allergens like pollen, pet dander, dust, and other triggers.
Once the body has a negative reaction, the immune system responds by releasing a chemical called histamine, which causes an allergic reaction.
What causes allergies are specific to the patient, and each allergy sufferer may have slightly different symptoms in response.
While most allergies appear during childhood and adolescence, they can also develop in response to new triggers as an adult.
Indoor and outdoor causes for allergic reactions can include:
- Pollen from trees, grass, plants, and weeds
- Pet hair or dander
Symptoms for allergic rhinitis include headaches, sneezing, congestion, fogginess, skin rash, and itchy eyes.
Allergies Vs Sinus Infection
Allergies can develop at any point in your life. While allergies tend to come up during childhood, its possible to develop allergies to new substances as an adult.
This type of reaction is caused by a negative response to a substance. Your immune system responds by releasing a chemical called histamine, which can then cause symptoms such as headache, sneezing, and congestion. Its also possible to feel foggy and develop a skin rash.
Severe allergies can lead to a cold-like condition called allergic rhinitis. With allergic rhinitis, you can have the above symptoms as well as itchy eyes. This itchiness is one of the key distinguishing factors between allergies and sinusitis.
A sinus infection, on the other hand, occurs when your nasal passages become inflamed. Sinusitis is most often caused by viruses. When the nasal cavity gets inflamed, mucus builds up and gets stuck, further compounding the problem.
Along with nasal congestion and headache, sinusitis causes pain around your cheeks and eyes. Sinus infections also cause thick, discolored mucus, and bad breath.
Compare the following symptoms to see if you have allergies or a possible sinus infection. Its also possible to have both conditions at the same time.
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How To Prevent Allergies
While allergy sufferers may not be able to cure their conditions entirely, there are some measures they can take to ease or prevent their symptoms.
- Avoiding any exposure to smoke, dust, and other irritants
- Changing out of outside clothing as soon as you come in the house
- Dusting and vacuuming regularly
- Taking over-the-counter medications such as an antihistamine
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
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.
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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When To See Your Doctor
Most cases of allergies and sinus infections can be remedied at home without the need for a medical professional. But if your symptoms worsen like your breathing becoming labored or a fever that lasts for days, dont hesitate to call or visit your doctor.
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A Previous Nasal Fracture
Nasal bones are the most commonly broken bones in the body. Sometimes they heal well on their own, or they seem as if they did. Over time, you may experience signs or symptoms that the nose didnt heal as well as youd hoped. In fact, your previously fractured nose may have set in a crooked position. Or, the break may have been worse than you knew, leading to fractures deeper in the sinus cavities that didnt heal well.
Anyone who has broken their nose in the past is at higher risk for chronic sinus infections, so make sure to mention your nasal fracture history when you make an appointment with our office.
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You Have Frequent Colds That Can Cause Bacterial Growth
If you spend most of the cold season blowing your nose, you might be one of the many people who get frequent sinus infections from the common cold.
Celebrity plastic surgeon and ear, nose, and throat specialist, Dr. Andrew Ordon told INSIDER that most acute cases of sinus infections are caused by bacterial growth that occurs due to a common cold, which causes sinus inflammation that can block nasal passages.
What Are The Treatment Options
Sinusitis is treated differently based on the cause. Most cases of acute sinusitis, about 98 percent, are caused by a virus, not bacteria, and should not be treated with antibiotics. Acute viral sinusitis may be treated using pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, steroid nasal sprays, or salt water irrigation in the nose. These treatments are also good options for acute bacterial sinusitis. Most people get better naturally from acute bacterial sinusitis, called watchful waiting, but some patients with acute bacterial sinusitis may get better faster with an antibiotic.
Chronic sinusitis is treated differently than acute sinusitis. Because chronic sinusitis is caused more by inflammation than infection, the treatments for chronic sinusitis aim to control the inflammation. Salt water nasal irrigation and/or nasal steroid sprays are the main treatments for the symptoms of chronic sinusitis. Antibiotics may sometimes be helpful but not always.
Other factors, including allergies, nasal polyps, asthma, and problems with the bodys ability to fight infections, can go along with sinusitis and make it worse unless they are also treated.
X-rays or CT scans of the sinuses are not necessary to diagnose uncomplicated sinusitis if you have the symptoms of sinusitis . If your doctor suspects a complication or if you have repeated episodes or prolonged sinus symptoms, a CT scan of your sinuses may be needed.
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What Are The Different Types Of Sinuses Near The Nose And Eyes
The paranasal sinuses are located in your head near your nose and eyes. They are named after the bones that provide their structure.
- The ethmoidal sinuses are located between your eyes.
- The maxillary sinuses are located below your eyes.
- The sphenoidal sinuses are located behind your eyes.
- The frontal sinuses are located above your eyes.
The biggest sinus cavity is the maxillary cavity, and it is one of the cavities that most often becomes infected.
There are different types of sinusitis:
- Acute bacterial sinusitis: This term refers to a sudden onset of cold symptoms such as runny nose, stuffy nose, and facial pain that does not go away after 10 days, or symptoms that seem to improve but then return and are worse than the initial symptoms . It responds well to antibiotics and decongestants.
- Chronic sinusitis: This term refers to a condition defined by nasal congestion, drainage, facial pain/pressure, and decreased sense of smell for at least 12 weeks.
- Subacute sinusitis: This term is used when the symptoms last four to twelve weeks.
- Recurrent acute sinusitis: This term is used when the symptoms come back four or more times in one year and last less than two weeks each time.
Frequent Use Of Neti Pot Or Other Sinus
A 2009 study concluded normal saline nasal irrigation improvesQuality of Life and decreases acute sinusitis symptoms. Nasal irrigation is an effective adjunctive treatment for pediatric acute sinusitis.
A 2012 study of children showed that when nasal irrigation was used, the children were less likely to need prescription allergy medications. Overall, the irrigation was well tolerated. Lastly, a 2012 study of adults also showed benefit in preventing sinus infections in those who used nasal saline irrigation.
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Do Allergies Cause Sinus Infection
Yes, in certain cases, an allergic reaction can lead to a sinus infection. When youre exposed to an allergen, your sinuses and nasal cavities produce lots of excess mucus to flush them out. All this excess mucus tends to build up inside your sinuses. The moist caverns provide the perfect breeding for bacteria and viruses leading to sinus infection.
Antihistamines, a common medication for allergies, are also known to cause sinus infections. They make mucus thicker and harder to drain causing them to build up in your sinuses. And as you know, mucus build-up encourages bacterial growth that can lead to sinusitis.
How To Treat Recurrent Sinus Infections And A Sinus Infection That Wont Go Away
Patients whose sinus issues and frequent sinusitis do not respond well to traditional treatment often elect to undergo more drastic treatments, including sinus surgery. Traditional sinus surgeries, which involve the removal of bone and cartilage, can be extremely effective at reducing sinus issues. However, these procedures are invasive and can require extensive recovery time.
Balloon sinuplasty has neither of these downfalls and has proven to be extremely effective at restoring proper sinus drainage and relieving patients of chronic sinus infections. A minimally invasive, in-office procedure that takes less than 20 minutes and offers long-term relief, balloon sinuplasty is fast becoming the sinus infection treatment of choice for patients looking for how to prevent sinus infections on a more permanent basis.
During the procedure, an experienced ENT inserts a small endoscopic balloon into the nasal cavity. This balloon is then inflated, widening the sinus passageway and relieving the patient of congestion and other sinusitis symptoms. The best part?Balloon sinuplasty recovery takes little to no time at all. Most patients are able to return to work between one and two days after the procedure.
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Keep Nasal Passages Clear And Moist
The cilia inside the nose do their job best in a moist environment. Enter nasal irrigation. âOne of the simplest, cheapest, and most effective ways to prevent and treat sinus problems is nasal irrigation. Using a homemade solution, you can often relieve sinusitis symptoms, reduce reliance on nasal sprays and antibiotics, and improve your quality of life,â proposes Harvard Health Publishing.For best results, incorporate this practice into your daily hygiene routine. One mantra to remember? âBrush, then flush.âOther tactics for keeping your nasal passages in good shape? Use saline sprays, drink plenty of water, inhale steam, sleep with your head elevated, blow your nose gently, and use a humidifier or vaporizer.
How Can I Prevent A Sinus Infection
One of the best ways to prevent chronic sinusitis is to avoid the initial infection. Follow these tips:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for a least 20 seconds, especially when coming into contact with commonly used surfaces. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer.
- Avoid anyone with a cold, flu or other respiratory illness.
- Stop smoking or avoid secondhand smoke.
If you have a sinus infection, stay home, if you can. Remember to practice the following safety measure so that you avoid making others sick:
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Check If You Have Sinusitis
Symptoms of sinusitis include:
- pain, swelling and tenderness around your cheeks, eyes or forehead
- a reduced sense of smell
- green or yellow mucus from your nose
- a sinus headache
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.
Colds And Allergies Are The Main Risk Factors For Developing Sinusitis
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal sinuses, commonly caused by bacterial infection following a viral infection such as the common cold. Other risk factors for developing sinusitis include untreated allergies, crooked nasal anatomy, smoking, nasal polyps and overuse of decongestant nasal sprays.
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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.
How Can I Prevent Sinusitis
Experts dont know a lot about how to prevent sinusitis. But the following tips may help:
- Avoid contact with allergens or irritants that trigger your nasal allergies.
- Keep your nose as free and clear as possible by taking your allergy medicines including topical nasal steroid sprays and using a nasal saline rinse.
- Avoid infections by washing your hands often during common cold season. Also avoid touching your face.
- Talk with your doctor about lifestyle changes that may help you prevent repeated sinus infections. These may include changes to your diet, maintaining good hydration, performing regular exercise, and reducing stress.
Medical Review: April 2021 by Sarah Goff, MD, PhD, and August 2022 by John James, MD
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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.
Did Your Sinus Infection Really Go Away
Related to a viral, fungal, or bacterial infection, sinusitis is generally categorized as:
- Acute sinusitis, typically lasting 2-4 weeks
- Subacute sinusitis, lasting from 4-12 weeks
- Recurrent sinusitis that occurs several times a year
- Chronic sinusitis, diagnosed when your symptoms persist for 12 weeks or longer
Its important to note that acute sinusitis can improve after a couple of days but then appear to return, sometimes with more severe symptoms. This, however, is a worsening of the original illness and not a new or recurrent sinus infection. Recurrent sinusitis is that which occurs four or more times a year without any symptoms between these episodes.
Your evaluation at Petoskey ENT Specialists starts with a detailed discussion of your symptoms as your provider investigates the potential causes of your sinusitis and your best treatment options.
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