What Is A Sinus Infection
A sinus infection, also known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, is a condition where the tissues lining the nasal passages become inflamed. Sinus infections are very common, affecting nearly 30 million people in the U.S. each year, and a large percentage of these infections resolve on their own. Common sinusitis symptoms include nasal congestion, sore throat, headache, and facial pain.
Simply explained, a sinus infection occurs when there is an infection in the sinuses, a connected system of air-filled spaces in the skull. Under normal conditions, mucus drains out so that air can pass through sinus cavities. When fluid builds up in the sinuses, germs grow and an infection can occur.
Sinus infections can cause facial discomfort because of nasal congestion. You may experience a headache, pain behind the eyes, and facial tenderness or swelling. Other sinus infection symptoms are similar to having a bad cold or intense allergies including nasal discharge, postnasal drip, fatigue, sinus pressure, loss of sense of smell, throat irritation, and even a fever.
Typically triggered by allergies or a cold, a sinus infection can take many forms. Acute sinusitis may cause mild symptoms and go away quickly without antibiotics. These cases are often caused by a viral infection like the common cold and do not require anything more than symptomatic treatment for your comfort.
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 you’re 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.
Fever And Pain Reducers
If you have a fever and/or pain, take two acetaminophen tablets. After four hours, if you still have pain or fever, take two ibuprofen tablets. You can rotate these every four hours.
Valdez said it is very important to be careful when combining all these medicines to make sure you are not doubling up on a single agent. “Some of these medications may contain a lower dose of any of the above mentioned agents, so check the labels carefully.”
Remember those agents are: acetaminophen or ibuprofen for fever/pain, dextromethorphan for cough and pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine and guaifenesin for decongestants and expectorants.
Lastly, Valdez said to keep the following in mind:
- If you have a fever, do not go into work or school you should be fever free for 24 hours.
- Rest is the best medicine. Let the virus run its course if your body is run down it will take it longer to fight off the infection.
- To prevent sinus infections, get a flu shot , wash your hands often and cover your cough and sneeze.
Also Check: What Do They Give You For A Sinus Infection
Sinus Infection Medications: Medicines That Help Treat Sinusitis
Sydney is a contributing health writer and editor who enjoys shedding light on health topics, making information available to anyone who wants it, and ending stigmas or lack of access to care and treatment.
Po-Chang Hsu, M.D.
Po-Chang Hsu, M.D.
Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Masters of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University. Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel.
Otc Medicine For Sinus Congestion
When your sinuses become inflamed and congested, this means that the tiny, air-filled spaces that are connected to your nasal cavity have been blocked or are unable to drain normally. This buildup of mucus then causes a feeling of pressure or “fullness” in your forehead, eyes, or jaw. Luckily, OTC medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can alleviate pain caused by the pressure buildup.
Here are the most common types of OTC medication for sinus congestion:
1. Decongestant: Nasal decongestants are available in tablets, liquids, and nasal sprays and work by reducing blood flow to the sinuses, ultimately reducing nasal swelling and inflammation. Popular nasal decongestants include:
- Phenylephrine with brand names Sudafed PE, Vicks Sinex, and Pretz-D.
- Pseudoephedrine with brand names Sudafed, Dimetapp Decongestant, and 12 Hour Cold Maximum Strength.
2. Pain reliever: There are two main categories of pain relievers:
3. Antihistamines: Antihistamines are commonly used to treat allergies, but they can be used to treat stomach problems and the common cold among other ailments. Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine, which your immune system releases to protect against foreign invasions. Histamines cause symptoms like inflammation, congestion, a runny nose, and sneezing. So antihistamines are designed to alleviate those symptoms. Popular antihistamines include cetirizine and fexofenadine .
Read Also: How To Relieve Sinus Pressure In Face
How Long Does Sinusitis Last
Sinusitis tends to last between two to three weeks*, and the infection usually clears on its own or with the use of over the counter medication. However if your symptoms are severe, getting worse or havent improved after 10 days then you should see your GP. If you also experience frequent episodes of sinusitis, your GP will be able to offer treatment advice, as well as diagnose the condition.
How Do You Get Rid Of A Sinus Infection Fast
You can treat a sinus infection at home or with OTC medications for symptom relief, and/or a prescription antibiotic medication, in the case of a bacterial infection. Stay hydrated, use a humidifier, and sleep at an incline to help resolve your sinus infection quickly. Consult your healthcare provider to see if you need an antibiotic.
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Others Ways Of Avoiding And Minimizing Sinus Problems
Except those best sinus medicines mentioned above, there are many other effective home remedies that help you alleviate sinus discomforts.
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
- Bad Breath
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.
Recommended Reading: Best Medicine For Sinus Congestion And Post Nasal Drip
What To Look For When Buying Otc Sinus Decongestants
When youre figuring out which decongestant to buy, youll need to determine whats causing your congestion. If its allergies, youll probably want a product that contains an antihistamine ingredient like diphenhydramine.
If you have cold or flu symptoms, you may be looking for a product that includes phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine. Some OTC sinus decongestant formulas include both antihistamines and decongestant ingredients, and some add in pain relief ingredients such as ibuprofen to their formula. Treat for symptoms that you have, not for additional symptoms that you dont have.
Medicine For Cold And Sinus
Headache, nasal pain, congestion, runny nose and fatigue.
There’s no doubt that these symptoms can make you feel miserable, but it can be hard to tell what’s causing the discomfort. Is it a cold or sinus infection? Both of these illnesses share many of the same symptoms, and treatment is often similar, too. Here you’ll learn about colds and sinus infections, including cold and sinus medicines.
Recommended Reading: Nevada Ear And Sinus Institute Reviews
How Can You Tell If You Have Chronic Sinusitis
Does it feel like your sinus infection just wont quit? If you experience at least two of the following for 12 weeks or more even though youve been treated it may be chronic sinusitis:
- A stuffed nose
- Discharge of mucus or postnasal drip
- Pain or pressure in your face
- Problems with smell
Chronic sinus infections can be triggered by colds but are typically caused by long-term inflammation. Sometimes, when treatments to control that inflammation fail, people with chronic sinusitis need surgery to drain their mucus.
How To Tell If You Have An Actual Sinus Infection
Even though we often say we have a sinus infection even if its just inflammation or an allergic response, there are symptoms of an actual infection that may be treatable with antibiotics. Nasal congestion and pain under the eyes or around the temples are, of course, main symptoms, but others include the loss of the sense of smell, green nasal discharge, mucus dripping down your throat, cough, fever, fatigue, sore throat, and even bad breath.
Sometimes, a sinus infection will clear up without intervention, but if you develop a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, have your symptoms for 10 or more days, notice that your symptoms are getting worse and are not improved by OTC medications, or you have multiple infections in a years time, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Read Also: How Do You Get S Sinus Infection
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.
Sinus Infection Treatment Options
There are many treatment options for a sinus infection, but the best treatment option varies by the severity of the case. Some acute sinus infections will clear up on their own without any treatment, and you may just think it was a cold. Others require more serious interventions by a healthcare provider.
The standard treatment healthcare providers prescribe for a presumed bacterial sinus infection is an antibiotic. However, if you have a sinus infection caused by a viral infection such as the common cold, your doctor will not prescribe antibiotics as these medications only treat bacterial infections. Instead, you can treat the sinus infection symptomatically until it resolves, with nasal decongestants and antihistamines.
There are plenty of ways to treat symptoms of a sinus infection at home with over-the-counter medications and home remedies. OTC antihistamines block the effects of histamine, helping symptoms like sneezing and runny nose. Simple treatments like drinking water, keeping your sinuses hydrated , and using warm compresses, can also help treat symptoms of a sinus infection.
Keeping your nasal passages clean can help you prevent future sinus infections. If you anticipate having sinus issues during allergy or cold season, flushing out your nasal passages with a saltwater solution can help you avoid the pains of a sinus infection.
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Can/should I Take A Sinus Decongestant For A Sinus Infection
You can take certain decongestants for a sinus infection. Decongestants that contain only pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine are more typically recommended for a sinus infection. Decongestants with additional ingredients like antihistamines may suppress your bodys immune response and interfere with your bodys ability to fight the infection. If you have a severe sinus infection, or if youre on antibiotics, consult with your doctor about the best OTC medication choice for you.
When Should I Seek Medical A Care For A Sinus Headache
- Sinus headaches and infections may sometimes be successfully treated at home .
- However, you should seek medical care if you are not sure what is causing your symptoms or if you have signs of a severe infection including high fever, symptoms that do not resolve with time, or if over-the-counter pain relievers are not effective in controlling the pain.
- You should also seek care if you notice swelling in the face that accompanies the pain, swelling around your eye or changes in vision, since this could be a sign of an abscess.
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Will My Sinus Infection Clear Up On Its Own
The first few weeks of the common cold arent fun, but the acute sinusitis that can pop up afterwards doesnt help either. Sinus congestion and the common cold, unfortunately, 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.
Sinus infections are caused when the cavities around your nasal passages become inflamed and swollen, which eventually interferes with drainage and causes mucus to build up. This tends to get annoying, because it makes breathing through the nose difficult. It also affects the area around your eyes and face, and can cause a throbbing headache.
When a sinus infection hits, its always worse than what you remembered from the last time you had one. This may give you the idea that you need antibiotics, but most clear up without them. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses and arent recommended within the first week of developing a cold. About 70 percent of sinus infections go away within two weeks without antibiotics.
Consider these other forms of treatments instead of antibiotics:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers. Aspirins, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve temporary pain.
- Saline nasal spray. This is used to spray into your nose several times a day to rinse your nasal passages. They can help to prevent and treat inflammation.
Antibiotics only will be needed if the infection is severe, recurrent or persistent.
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What Would Doctors Prescribe For Sinus Infection
Although they are rare, more serious cases of sinus infection warrant a doctor visit. If you find yourself talking to a doctor about chronic sinus infection, your doctor will likely recommend antibiotics. Severe sinus infections are usually of the bacterial variety, which means antibiotics will help kill off the foreign bacteria. Note that antibiotics will not help with viral sinus infections, which are also usually far less severe.
Steroids can typically reduce inflammation, so if your infection is due to a virus causing severe inflammation, you may require sinus infection medication that involves steroids.
You can get prescriptions for sinus infection medication from licensed physicians on our sister site PlushCare. All you have to do is make an appointment online, speak to a doctor about your symptoms, and they will help you develop a treatment plan, which may include prescribing sinus infection medication.
Recommended Reading: Ways To Relieve Sinus Pressure In Ears
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.