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.
When Antibiotics Dont Work
Have an infection that isnt responding to antibiotics or sinusitis that has more than two weeks? Youre experiencing a unique sinus infection that could cause more serious complications.
Depending on your specific case, a CT scan can help. This gives health care providers a closer look at what is occurring in the sinuses. You may also benefit from an otolaryngology specialist, who can determine whether other issues are causing your ongoing sinusitis.
Should the root of your sinus infection remain a mystery, additional tests can pinpoint the exact cause. If bacterial, your primary care provider may prescribe you a specific antibiotic. Fungal infections are rare and need to be treated surgically.
Sinus Surgery For Chronic Infections
If medical therapies dont clear up chronic sinusitis, your doctor will usually recommend surgery.
Several surgical approaches can enlarge the sinus cavities to make breathing and drainage easier. In the past, sinus surgeries required bone and tissue removal. Recent advancements mean this isnt the case.
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Fall Allergies Or Sinus Infection
Telling the difference between fall allergies and sinus infections can be challenging. Not only does one often result in the other, they also share a central symptom the stuffy nose. There are, however, some important differences.
Fall allergies often include itchy, watery eyes and sneezing. They might also leave you wheezing or coughing.
Sinus infections also distinguish themselves from allergies through the pressure, pain, or discomfort that you feel in the middle part of your face. Additionally, they result in thick and sometimes even neon-coloured snot.
And, if youre experiencing bad breath or fever, youre likely dealing with sinusitis. While these symptoms occur less often with a sinus infection, they definitely dont happen with allergies.
Treatments From Your Gp
If these treatments dont help, you GP may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist for an assessment and to discuss whether surgery is a suitable option.
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When It Comes And When It Goes
If you have allergies, youll start feeling symptoms soon after you come into contact with the stuff youre allergic to. Your symptoms keep up as long as youre still surrounded by those triggers.
Allergies can happen any time of year. They may be seasonal, which means you get them only in the spring or fall. Or they may be year-round. For instance, you might be allergic to pets or mold, which can be a problem no matter the season.
Sinusitis usually happens after youve had a cold or allergies. But certain symptoms will keep going, even after your cold goes away. Youll probably have a stuffy nose and cough for more than a week or two.
You may hear your doctor talk about two kinds of sinusitis: acute and chronic. Theres a simple way to tell them apart. If your symptoms last less than 4 weeks, its acute. If they go on for 3 months or longer, you have chronic sinusitis.
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What Home Remedies Help Soothe Sinus Infection Or Sinusitis Symptoms
Sinus infections caused by viruses can use home treatments such as pain and fever medications , decongestants, and mucolytics. In addition, some health care professionals suggest nasal irrigation or a sinus rinse solution to help relieve symptoms of sinus infections, even chronic sinusitis symptoms. This irrigation is accomplished with a Neti-Pot or a sinus rinse kit . The last reference of this article shows a video of a sinus rinse procedure. In 2012, the FDA issued a warning about the use of Neti-Pots. The FDA cautions people not to use untreated tap water for rinsing, as contaminated tap water rinses lead to two deaths.
Bacterial and fungal sinus infections usually require antibiotic or antifungal therapy so home treatments without them are often not successful. However, some authors suggest home treatments may reduce symptoms after medical therapy has begun some healthcare professionals recommend nasal irrigation after sinus surgery.
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Alkalol Company Mucus Solvent And Cleaner
This all-natural product has been widely regarded as the best over the counter medicine for sinus infection, based on consumer reviews. Alkalol Natural Soothing Nasal Wash Mucus Solvent and Cleaner is a powerful however very gentle solution that works tough to remove mucus, but soothes the nasal tissues to reduce irritation and discomfort.
The mixture menthol, eucalyptol, spearmint, pine, and cinnamon packs a powerful minty punch that leaves the sinuses clear and free from congestion for hours on end. Whats more, the all natural solution causes zero side-effects, making it the best sinus medicine ever for little children.
All in all, Alkalol Natural Soothing Nasal Wash Mucus Solvent and Cleaner is a straightforward, safe, and effective product that gets the job done. So if you want a sinus infection remedy that can ease your discomfort at a reasonable price, this is the option for you.
When To See A Doctor
Itâs time to see a doctor if you have:
- A fever lasting longer than three to four days
- Severe symptoms, such as severe headache or migraine, or facial pain
- Symptoms that get worse after initially improving
- Symptoms lasting more than 10 days without improvement
Itâs important to properly diagnose viral and bacterial sinusitis because antibiotics may be necessary for a bacterial infection, but they cannot treat a viral sinus infection. Only your doctor can differentiate between acute bacterial sinus infection and a viral sinus infection.
If you have heart, kidney, or liver disease, your healthcare provider may consider different treatment.
If you feel worse or your symptoms do not improve with the antibiotic treatment after seven days, you should call your doctor to reevaluate.
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Relief For Sinus Pain
For effective relief, choose your sinus headache relief based on what you need. You can find combination packs of both day time and night time relief to help you get better rest and feel good throughout the day. If you dont have any trouble sleeping, choose a day time sinus relief product. There are formulas for severe colds and coughs as well as different flavors of liquid medicines to choose from.
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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.
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When Antibiotics Are Needed
Historically, sinus infections, also called sinusitis, were often treated with antibiotics. But today, many allergists warn against the random use of antibiotics for a sinus infection.
Antibiotics can help eliminate bacterial sinus infections. But when a sinus infection is caused by allergies, a virus, or other causes such as a structural defect of the sinuses, an antibiotic will not help to alleviate symptoms.
The overuse of antibiotics is when they are prescribed for reasons other than when they are needed. Because of the common overprescribing of antibiotics for the type of sinus infections that do not warrant such treatment, many people have developed whats commonly referred to as antibiotic resistance.
What About Cayenne Pepper
If youve ever eaten spicy food, you know that it can sometimes make your nose run. Thats likely the reason some people believe eating or even snorting cayenne pepper can help with a sinus infection.
Similarly, others focus on capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot peppers that makes them spicy, believing that a capsaicin nasal spray may clear out congestion.
However, theres no peer-reviewed research to prove that either cayenne or capsaicin are an effective remedy for sinus infections. And while these foods are generally safe, they could have side effects if you take too much. Eating too much cayenne, for example, can irritate your mouth and stomach, and in very large doses it could lead to vomiting or diarrhea.
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Is A Sinus Infection Contagious
How Will I Know if I Have a Sinus Infection?
The majority of doctors think that most people do not transmit sinus infections except in rare instances, and conclude that sinus infections are not contagious.
Sinus infections usually begin with the symptoms of a cold , and then develop into pain and pressure in the sinus cavities. About 7 to 10 days after initial cold-like symptoms other symptoms develop that suggest you may have a sinus infection. Sinus infection symptoms include
- a yellowish-greenish nasal discharge that may have an odor,
Other Options To Try Before Taking Sinus Infection Medications
Besides inhaling steam to relieve pressure in your sinuses:
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Avoid irritants to your sinuses
- Nasal irrigation
Nasal irrigation, another treatment for sinus infections, means flushing out mucus and debris from the nose by pushing fluids through the nostrils. Some patients find this method uncomfortable, but overall more effective than simple steam.
When Should I Use A Nasal Decongestant
If you have mild congestion caused by cold, flu, or seasonal allergies, you may want to consider an OTC nasal decongestant. This can help clear up your nasal passages and help you breathe more easily.
You dont have to take a decongestant as part of your at-home treatment regimen. Once your infection clears away or your allergies arent triggered, the congestion will clear up on its own.
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Use A Cold Pack On The Area
You can apply cold to the affected area for instant relief from the pressure. This can be a little tricky with the ears, but it will depend on where the pain originates from. Just because you feel the pressure in your ears, doesnt mean this is the first place it will be. You could find treating the sinus blockage or pressure around the nose area helps to relieve the pain in your ears.
Use a cold pack around your sinuses or your head. Sit with it on your skin for around 20 minutes. Dont put ice directly on your skin! Make sure it is covered with something to avoid freezer burns and discomfort.
If you do not have a cold pack or you do not like using ice, you can also use a cold washcloth. Have a bowl of cold water and dip the washcloth inside. Wring out the excess water and then apply it directly to wherever the pressure is.
Heat does not work as well as cold. The heat will draw out the moisture and make the symptoms worse. Only breathing in steam helps, as this helps to add moisture to the area.
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Causes & Risk Factors
Any health situation that blocks off the vital drainage channels of your sinuses can cause a sinus infection including:
- Respiratory infections like the common cold
- Hay fever or exposure to allergens such as cigarette smoke, dry air and pollutants
- Obstructions in the nasal or sinus cavities including nasal polyps, deviated septum, or nasal bone spur
- Non-allergic rhinitis
- Infections resulting from dental problems
- Physical injury to the sinuses
- Bacteria, viruses, and fungi
The five most common bacteria that can cause sinus infections are: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pyogenes.
Risk factors for sinus infections include:
- Being in the hospital, especially if the reason you are in the hospital is related to a head injury or you needed a tube inserted into your nose
Acute Sinus Infection Home Remedies
Acute sinus infections caused by viruses usually last only 7 to 10 days.
These cases are usually treated by addressing the symptoms rather than the underlying cause .
Common symptoms of acute sinus infections include nasal congestion and blockage, yellow-to-green nasal discharge, decreased sense of smell, postnasal drip, and a feeling of pain, pressure, or fullness in the face.
To help relieve symptoms, particularly sinus pain and stuffiness, without medications, try the following recommendations:
- Drink plenty of fluids
How Long Will It Take To Feel Better
Sinus infections are usually caused by viruses and typically will get better over five to seven days, Dr. McCormick says. If the symptoms persist for longer or the symptoms get better but quickly return, patients should see a doctor to determine if they need antibiotics or if there is another cause for their symptoms, he adds.
While these medications will help you feel better, they wont necessarily wipe out your symptoms completely. And, because sinus infections are usually caused by a virus, you just kind of have to ride it out. Dr. McCormick also recommends doing saline irrigations with a nasal spray or neti pot to help you feel more comfortable while you wait.
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What Are The Signs Of A Sinus Infection
While some symptoms of sinusitis overlap with those of a cold, sinus infections result in more pain and discomfort in the central part of your face. Signs of a sinus infection include:
- Pain, tenderness, pressure, or all three in the area around your eyes, forehead, cheeks, and nose
- Lots of nasal discharge, especially if its thick and yellow or green
- Fluid drainage in the back of your throat this can trigger you to swallow or cough excessively
- Difficulty smelling or tasting, or loss of sense of taste or smell
Less often, you may also experience:
- Tooth or gum pain
Any of the following symptoms are a red flag that you need urgent care:
- Pain or swelling around your eye
- Altered mental state with fever
- Painful eye movements
- Vision changes or vision loss
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Treatment For Sinusitis From A Gp
If you have sinusitis, a GP may be able to recommend other medicines to help with your symptoms, such as:
- steroid nasal sprays or drops â to reduce the swelling in your sinuses
- antihistamines â if an allergy is causing your symptoms
- antibiotics â if a bacterial infection is causing your symptoms and youre very unwell or at risk of complications
You might need to take steroid nasal sprays or drops for a few months. They sometimes cause irritation, sore throats or nosebleeds.
A GP may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist if, for example, you:
- still have sinusitis after 3 months of treatment
- keep getting sinusitis
- only have symptoms on 1 side of your face
They may also recommend surgery in some cases.
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Things Which May Worsen A Sinus Infection
Lets take a look at what you can remove or eliminate from your diet and environment to both encourage healing and discourage chronic sinusitis or recurrent infections in the future.
Monitoring your symptoms is key to making sure you see treatment when and if it is needed. If you think you may have a sinus infection, consult your doctor or visit an urgent care center.
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Do I Need Antibiotics
Antibiotics are seldom needed to treat sinusitis because sinusitis is mostly caused by viruses . Antibiotics only work against bacteria but not viruses. Using antibiotics when they are not needed can lead to antibiotic resistance. This is when overuse of antibiotics encourages the growth of bacteria that cant be controlled easily with drugs. That makes you more at risk of antibiotic-resistant infections in the future and makes antibiotics less effective for everyone.
- Antibiotics are considered when symptoms last longer than 10 days, start to improve but then worsen again, or are very severe such as a fever over 39°C, extreme pain and tenderness over your sinuses, or signs of a skin infection, such as a hot, red rash that spreads quickly.
- If you are given antibiotics, finish the full course.
- Read more about antibiotics for sinusitis Choosing Wisely, NZ