Some Steps You Can Take
Whether your sinus infection turns out to be viral or bacterial, you can help to ease your symptoms early on with supportive sinus care:
If your symptoms arent improving after one week, its important to see your doctor. If a bacterial infection is suspected, youll probably need to take an antibiotic to clear up the infection and prevent further complications.
If your infections occur more frequently, and your doctor really wants to establish if they are bacterial or viral, your Otolaryngologist or ear, nose and throat doctor can sample the snot from your nose when youre infected and send it to a laboratory to know for sure.
Note: Antibiotics wont help a viral infection, and taking an antibiotic unnecessarily can do more harm than good. You risk possible side effects and increase your chances of developing antibiotic resistance, which can make future infections harder to treat, says Dr. Sindwani. So its important to wait and see how long your symptoms last.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Sinus Infection
The terms “sinus infection” and “sinusitis” are often used interchangeably, but sinusitis simply refers to the inflammation of the sinuses, with or without an infection. The medical term for sinusitis is rhinosinusitis because the illness affects the mucous membranes in both the sinuses and nose.
Sinus infections ultimately develop because of sinus and nasal blockages that result in sinus inflammation. There are several underlying causes of sinus blockage, including various environmental, anatomical, and genetic factors. But the most common cause of the blockage is inflammation or swelling of the nasal passages because of the common cold or allergies.
In healthy people, mucosal secretions are always moving and draining into the nasal cavity. But
when blockage occurs, mucus fails to drain properly, increases in thickness, and fills the sinus spaces.
The cilia also slow down their sweeping and cleaning, making it even harder for mucus to drain.
When the mucus is unable to drain, it becomes the perfect medium for microbes to grow out of control and cause an infection.
Can A Sinus Infection Last For Months
Sinusitis wont go away at the drop of a hat. It tends to linger and, if left untreated, it can last for months. Again, its best to take a trip to your doctors office if your symptoms last longer than one week.
Note that there is a chance that long-term sinus issues may be caused by allergens. If this is the case, then your sinus symptoms will likely last until you can escape the allergen or have the allergies treated.
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Facial Pain Or Pressure
Another possible sign of a sinus infection: facial pain. “Sinus infections can cause a feeling of pressure, squeezing, or congestion in the cheeks, between the eyes, or in the forehead,” says Dr. Gudis. You may notice that the pressure worsens when you lean forward, like to do something like tie your shoes, he says.
When To See A Specialist For Recurrent Sinus Infection
The symptoms of a sinus infection are known to many of us. Headaches and having pressure and pain behind our cheekbones and around our eyes are but a few of them. Most of the time these sinus infections go away with proper home care. When they dont go away or keep coming back, here is the recommendation for when to see a specialist for recurrent sinus infections.
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Diagnosing Upper Respiratory Infection
You may recognize most symptoms of an upper respiratory infection on your own, which may not need to be tested by a doctor. Symptoms of a common cold are often self-managed, but you may need to see your doctor for tests.
Your doctor will take your list of symptoms and your personal and medical history. They may physically examine your throat, tonsils, ears, nose, and lymph nodes to check for redness, swelling, and signs of infection. They may take your temperature and check your blood pressure and pulse.
Your doctor may also swab your throat and nose for a sample of your cells. The sample may be tested to determine the type of bacteria or virus you have. A blood test, x-ray, or a urinalysis may also be done to rule out other issues or check for complications.
Allergies Or Sinus Troubles When To See An Ent Specialist
Seasonal allergies, scratchy throats, nasal congestion and sinus problems. For some, the symptoms and discomfort are enough to send them to their primary care doctor for help. However, if the problem is chronic and recurring, your doctor may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist.
ENT specialists — or otolaryngologists — have advanced medical and surgical training in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of conditions, ranging from simple sinusitis and allergies to complex cancers, trauma and deformities of the head, neck and face.
In addition, ENT physicians often work closely with:
- Audiologists to diagnose and treat hearing loss
- Neurosurgeons for the removal of skull-based tumors
- Oncologists for the treatment of head and neck cancers
- Plastic surgeons when reconstructive surgery of the face and neck is required
- Sleep medicine specialists to surgically correct problems with the nose, palate and tongue that may cause sleep apnea and/or snoring
- Speech pathologists to manage speech and swallowing disorders
There are many different symptoms that might suggest the need for an ENT consultation.
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What Is Sinus Infection Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention
Lying behind your eyebrows, behind your cheekbones, and between your eyes are your sinuses air-filled cavities lined with a mucous membrane that filters and humidifies the air you inhale.
This membrane produces and circulates mucus into your sinus and nasal passages to help remove dust, particles, and microbes from the air that you breathe. Tiny hair-like cells called cilia sweep the mucus to the openings that lead to the back of your throat, allowing it to slide down into your stomach.
A sinus infection occurs when the sinuses become inflamed and swell up because of a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. The infection can be acute or chronic .
Complications Of Sinus Infection
Sinus inflammation can spread to the bones and soft tissues of the face and eyes. This can cause:
- Cellulitis of the face or around the eyes
- Abscesses of the eyes
Left intreated, sinus infections can also lead to serious intracranial complications, including blood clots within the cavernous sinus, pus between the skulls and dura mater , and meningitis.
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Throat Irritation And Coughing On Sinus
Chronic coughing can be a symptom of a sinus infection. A chronic infection causes mucus to thicken and stick to the back of the throat. When this happens, the patient may cough. Eventually, the throat will become sore, and the voice may sound hoarse. Aside from coughing, a sinus infection can also cause earaches and pain in the jaw and teeth.
Symptoms of a sinus infection are similar to those of a common cold, but they can last a longer time than the average cold. Left untreated, the symptoms of sinusitis can become more serious and can even lead to vision and smell problems. This is why its important to monitor the symptoms of a sinus infection and get treatment as soon as possible. Throat irritation and coughing on a sinus can be a sign of a serious bacterial or fungal infection.
Symptoms of a sinus infection can be similar to those of a cold, but the duration of the symptoms is much longer. If left untreated, the condition can lead to further complications, including a reduced sense of smell and vision loss. Fortunately, it is easy to identify the signs of a sinus infection, and treatment can be administered for it. Regardless of whether you have symptoms of a sinus infection, you should seek a doctors advice.
How Can I Avoid Future Sinus Infections
Once youve had a nasty sinus infection, you wont want to relive the experience. To help prevent them from occurring again, get your annual flu shot and steer clear of people with colds or the flu. Use your humidifier. Live as healthfully as you can get sufficient sleep, reduce stress and eat a wholesome diet with plenty of whole grains, lean proteins and fruits and vegetables. Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke and if you do smoke, take steps to quit. Last, but not least, always wash your hands.
Ultimately, sinusitis is a painful and revolting nuisance. But approaching them with these smart strategies could save you a world of hurt.
This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.
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What Your Doctor Needs To Know
To find out if youâve got more than a bad cold, you need to learn the cause of your symptoms. Your doctor can help you figure out whether you have sinusitis or something else.
Tell your doctor how long youâve had sinus symptoms, and whether theyâve gotten worse or stayed the same. If youâve had them for less than 10 days and theyâre not getting worse, you probably have a viral infection. It will likely go away on its own.
Over-the-counter treatments like saline sprays, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen may help ease symptoms along the way. might reduce the swelling and inflammation temporarily. If you use them, read the directions carefully and only use as directed. Using nasal decongestant sprays for more than a few days could make the congestion worse.
Remedies For Sinus Symptom Relief
While a sinus infection is a painful experience, there are several other natural remedies that may help relieve the symptoms. These include sleeping with your head elevated and applying heat to your face. Other remedies for sinus symptom relief include drinking warm water, steam, and hot towels. A spicy diet is also recommended to clear the nasal passages. You can also try steam or a hot shower to relieve symptoms. Generally, natural remedies for sinus infections take time to work, but they are still worth a try.
While the most common remedy for sinusitis is medication, home remedies for sinus infection are also useful. Inhaling steam can relieve the symptoms of an infection. It also promotes healing of the body and produces white blood cells, which help kill off irritants. If you have difficulty sleeping, you may want to prop up your head while you sleep. This will help to move mucus out of your sinuses and prevent a stuffy nose. However, do not lie flat as this can cause even more pressure and buildup of mucus.
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How Long Should It Take For A Bad Sinus Infection To Go Away
Before we delve into what to do when your sinusitis wont go away, lets figure out whether you have a sinus infection in the first place. The symptoms shared between the common cold, chronic sinusitis, and chronic allergies, are similar making it rather difficult to deduce which culprit is causing your sinus issues.
One major differentiator, however, is time. A cold should go away within a week. If your cold lasts longer than 7-10 days, its likely that your cold has either turned into a bacterial sinus infection, or you actually had a sinus infection from the very beginning. Whatever the case, if your symptoms persist for more than a week, its best to see a doctor.
Once your doctor determines treatment, your sinus infection symptoms should begin to subside within a few days.
Signs Of An Upper Respiratory Infection
Upper respiratory infections are common in children and adults. Some signs and symptoms include:
Sometimes an infection is also caused by:
Influenza A and B viruses
Influenza viruses are often called the stomach flu, but stomach symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea arent typical symptoms, though they are more common in babies and children than adults. True influenza viruses primarily cause upper respiratory symptoms like a sore throat and coughing, and congestion or a runny nose.
S. pyogenes is a Group A streptococcus bacteria that causes an infection in your throat and tonsils. This is often called strep throat. It usually causes sudden sore throat, painful swallowing, swollen tonsils, red spots on the roof of your mouth, swollen lymph nodes, and fever.
Strep throat bacteria is spread by droplets from coughing or sneezing. If you breathe in those droplets, drink from the same glass or eat from the same plate as people who have strep throat, or touch something with droplets and then touch your mouth or nose, you may develop an infection.
- New loss of taste or smell
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When To See A Doctor
If you have a simple sinus infection, sometimes at-home treatment with over-the-counter medications such as a decongestant. Physicians generally advise not to use an over-the-counter decongestant for more than 3 days, however, as it can make you more congested. Warm compresses and saline nose drops may also help.
However, sinus infections generally require seeing a doctor. You dont want your sinus infection to get more serious, and the discomfort that accompanies such infections is best treated by a medical professional.
You should make an appointment with your doctor if any of the above symptoms last more than ten days or keep coming back over a short period of time. Also, contact your doctor immediately if you have a high fever , a severe headache or facial swelling, problems with your vision, or a very stiff neck.
When To Visit The Doctor
Many colds go away without medical intervention. However, if you have facial or eye pain, and thick yellow or green nasal discharge for longer than a week, visit your doctor. If you have a prolonged fever or severe symptoms that do not improve with over-the-counter treatments, its time to call the doctor.
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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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Types Of Sinus Infections
Acute and chronic sinusitis have a variety of symptoms. Patients with acute infection often experience nasal mucosal edema and purulent secretions, as well as pain in the surrounding sinuses. The location of the pain varies depending on the affected area. For instance, a patient may feel pain on palpation of the forehead over the frontal sinuses. This type of pain can be associated with tension headaches. Infections of the maxillary and ethmoid bones can cause a persons tooth sensitivity.
There are several diagnostic techniques used by medical professionals to determine the severity and duration of sinusitis. The primary factor in making the diagnosis is the presence of purulent secretions. During the first phase of the diagnosis, medical professionals may perform physical exams of the face or obtain a patients history. However, acute symptoms may persist for months or years despite treatment. Therefore, it is important to seek medical attention if symptoms are persistent or recurrent.
Acute bacterial sinusitis is typically less than four weeks. Acute symptoms typically begin with a cold and resolve within a week or ten days. In acute sinusitis, however, bacterial infections can develop and can persist. When this happens, the nasal discharge can be green or yellow and make breathing difficult. In addition, the patient may also notice facial pain or swelling, and pain in the ear or face may be referred to the jaw or ear. In some cases, fever and nausea may occur.
When Should I Call The Doctor About A Cold Or Sinus Infection
Most colds go away without medical treatment. If you have pain around your face or eyes, along with thick yellow or green nasal discharge for more than a week, check with your doctor. Also call them if you have fever or symptoms that are severe or don’t get better with over-the-counter treatments.
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