How To Cope With Other Types Of Sinusitis
If your sinusitis is connected to allergies, getting the allergies under control can help reduce your symptoms. For some people, avoiding the source of the allergen can be enough to help reduce any ongoing sinus issues. For others, taking antihistamines might be the best option for coping with allergies. If your allergies are severe enough to interfere with your life, immunotherapy might be your best option for coping with them.
Patients who have chronic sinusitis might find that their best option is surgery. Sinus surgery can help reduce symptoms, make it easier for you to breathe, and reduce the number of infections you get.
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 improving.
- Symptoms lasting more than 10 days without getting better.
- 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
How Long Does A Sinus Infection Last
Sinus infections can last several days. Viral sinus infections are usually most severe three to six days after they start, and then begin to improve by day 10. A viral sinus infection can develop into a bacterial infection, which typically lasts longer than 10 days. Patients will usually respond to antibiotics within two to three days after a bacterial sinus infection is diagnosed and treated. After that, sinus infections can resolve anywhere between seven and 14 days.
There are three types of sinusitis. All three are based on length of symptoms:
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Key Points To Remember
- Sinusitis is an infection or inflammation of the lining of the sinuses. Most people who get sinusitis have a cold first. Sinusitis usually goes away on its own.
- Sinusitis is usually caused by a virus, so antibiotics won’t help. Over-the-counter medicines and home treatment can help you feel better.
- Antibiotics do work if sinusitis is caused by bacteria. But you may not need to take them. Most people get better even if they don’t take antibiotics.
- Taking antibiotics too often or when you don’t need them can be harmful. The medicine may not work the next time you take it when you really do need it. This is called antibiotic resistance.
- Antibiotics have side effects. The most common ones include upset stomach, diarrhea, and belly pain. Antibiotics can also lead to vaginal yeast infections.
Is Your Sinus Infection Caused By A Virus Or Bacteria
Physicians may not know if sinusitis is bacterial or viral, because the diagnosis is typically done by observing symptoms. Symptoms include:
- Nasal congestion
- Thick nasal or post-nasal drainage
Sometimes other tests such as computed tomography scan or cultures are used to help make the diagnosis.
Despite the recommendations that antibiotic use be judicious, they are still overused for sinusitis, according to many physicians who specialize in treating sinus problems.
Some physicians say they give patients with sinusitis a prescription for antibiotics, and recommend they wait three to five days before filling it, and only fill it if symptoms are not better by then. A can be used to help relieve your symptoms and promote drainage.
The longer symptoms last, the more likely a sinus problem is to be a bacterial infection, some experts say.
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Not All Sinus Infections Are The Same
The major reason why antibiotics dont always help sinus infections is because not all sinus infections are caused by bacteria. In fact, the majority of sinus infections are viral. Others are caused by fungi or allergies.
Along with having different causes, there are different types of sinusitis. Acute sinus infections start suddenly, usually after a cold. Symptoms include facial pain and congestion. Usually, the infection clears up after a few weeks.
Chronic sinus infections last for a lot longer, usually at least 12 weeks. In some instances, a person might have symptoms on and off for weeks on end for a number of years. While a cold or allergies can trigger chronic sinusitis, its also often linked to an issue with the structure of the nasal passages. For example, a nasal polyp or an enlarged turbinate can increase a persons risk for developing chronic sinusitis.
It can be difficult to tell what the cause of your sinusitis is without a medical exam. To see if your infection is caused by bacteria or a virus, your doctor might swab your nose and run some tests to determine the source of the infection.
Rare Cases Can Turn Serious
Antibiotics also can help ward off rare but potentially dangerous complications that arise when a sinus infection spreads to the eyes or brain, Dr. Sindwani says.
Complications around the eyes are the more common of the two. These complications can cause redness, swelling around the eyes and reduced vision, and even lead to blindness in a severe form known as cavernous sinus thrombosis. Serious cases are immediately treated with IV antibiotics. Patients are usually admitted to the hospital for a CT scan to see if fluid needs to be drained, Dr. Sindwani says.
Also in rare cases, sinus infections in the rear center of ones head can spread into the brain. This can lead to life-threatening conditions like meningitis or brain abscess, Dr. Sindwani says.
Before antibiotics, people would die from sinusitis, he says. But he emphasizes that such complications are unlikely. In most cases, the bacterial infection goes away, especially if you dont have underlying medical problems.
Its important to monitor your symptoms if you suspect a sinus infection. If the condition lingers or worsens, call your doctor.
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When To Contact A Medical Professional
- Your symptoms last longer than 10 to 14 days or you have a cold that gets worse after 7 days.
- You have a severe headache that is not relieved by over-the-counter pain medicine.
- You have a fever.
- You still have symptoms after taking all of your antibiotics properly.
- You have any changes in your vision during a sinus infection.
A green or yellow discharge does not mean that you definitely have a sinus infection or need antibiotics.
How Can You Treat Sinusitis Without Antibiotics
Whether sinusitis is caused by bacteria or by a virus, most people get better even if they don’t take antibiotics.1 Home treatment for sinusitis can help relieve your symptoms. Here are some things you can do:
- Drink plenty of fluids to thin your mucus.
- Apply moist heat to your face for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this at least 3 times a day.
- Breathe warm, moist air from a steamy shower, a hot bath, or a sink filled with hot water.
- Use saltwater nasal washes to help keep your nasal passages open and to wash out mucus and bacteria. You can buy saline nose drops or sprays at a pharmacy or make your own saline solution at home. If you make saline at home, use distilled water or water that has been boiled and then cooled. You may also find it helpful to gargle with warm salt water.
- Ask your doctor if you can take over-the-counter medicines such as pain relievers and decongestants to help you feel better. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- If you need to blow your nose, do it gently. Blowing your nose too hard may force thick mucus back into your sinuses. Keep both nostrils open when you blow your nose.
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When Do I Really Need Antibiotics For A Sinus Infection
When do I really need antibiotics for a sinus infection? is a question many patients have when suffering from bothersome sinus and allergy problems. While sinus infections can be quite painful, antibiotics often do not help in treating the condition.
Sinus infections affect approximately 37 million people in the U.S. each year and can be caused by:
- Nasal polyps or deviated septum causing nasal obstruction
The majority of sinus infections are viral in nature, and antibiotics do not cure viral infections. Taking antibiotics for viral infections also will not:
- Keep you from being contagious to others
- Relieve symptoms or make you feel better
In order to distinguish a bacterial sinus infection from an infection caused by a virus or other contributing factor, your doctor will observe your symptoms and possibly conduct other tests, such as a CT scan or cultures.
Antibiotics are only effective on bacterial infections, and even in cases involving bacteria, the body can often cure itself of mild or moderate infections within a few days.
What Matters Most To You
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to take antibiotics for sinusitis
Reasons not to take antibiotics
I know I have a bacterial infection that is causing my sinusitis.
A virus is causing my sinusitis.
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What Happens When Unnecessary Antibiotics Are Prescribed
Research shows that even bacterial infections can clear up on their own without antibiotics within one to two weeks. This means that the majority of the time, antibiotics are unnecessarily prescribed. Of all sinus infections, 85% clear up on their own, while only 15% do not. This 15% is the population that needs antibiotics.
Consuming antibiotics, even when you need them, increases side effects and bacterial resistance rates. This means that the more antibiotics prescribed, the more the bacteria will adapt to become resistant to that specific antibiotic. And there are only so many antibiotics to go around, so resistance should not be taken lightly. Thats why the overprescription of antibiotics is a public health emergency.
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.
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Lingering Sinus Infection Or Chronic Runny Nose
A lingering sinus infection is different from a chronic runny nose. Chronic runny nose typically comes from allergies or other irritants in the air. However, this can turn into an infection over time.
When the sinuses become infected, the allergies, irritants, or viral cold have caused swelling in the nose thats blocked the drainage pathways. Consequently, fluid and mucous accumulate in the sinuses, where it has become infected with bacteria.
If youve been sick more than 10 days and begin to experience other symptoms like facial pressure, headache, and fever, youre dealing with more than a chronic runny nose.
Viral Vs Bacterial Sinus Infections
Most sinus infections are caused by viruses that create inflammation in the sinuses, leading to blockage that can make it hard to breathe, nasal secretions, postnasal drip, and other discomfort like facial pain around your eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead.
Knowing thisand that antibiotics dont work on viral infectionsmost healthcare providers first recommend treatments to relieve the symptoms of a sinus infection while you wait for it to resolve.
These may include:
- Over-the-counter such as pseudoephedrine
- Pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease discomfort from swelling, fever, or sore throat
In rare cases, viral sinus infections can lead to bacterial growth in the nasal passages.
Theres no way to know for sure if you have a bacterial sinus infection without testing a mucus sample.
But even without a sample, two signs typically indicate a bacterial infection and may prompt your provider to prescribe antibiotics:
- A sinus infection that lasts for more than 10 days
- Symptoms of the infection resolve, then back worse a couple days later
Some people think yellow or green mucus may be a sign of a bacterial sinus infection, but colored mucus can occur with viral infections and does not necessarily mean you have a bacterial infection.
If you do have bacterial sinusitis , it should respond to antibiotics within a few days.
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When Do We Need Antibiotics For Sinus Infection
Antibiotics are not needed for many sinus infections, but your doctor can decide if you need an antibiotic. You doctor may recommend antibiotics if:
Most sinus infections usually get better on their own without antibiotics. When antibiotics arent needed, they wont help you, and their side effects could still cause harm. Side effects can range from minor issues, like a rash, to very serious health problems, such as antibiotic-resistant infections and C. diff infection, which causes diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and death.
When Antibiotics Are In Order
The main reason to prescribe antibiotics is for patient comfort, Dr. Sindwani says. The medical field used to be more convinced than it is today than untreated sinusitis would inevitably become a chronic issue, he says.
We dont think that way as much, he says. We dont know that an untreated acute sinusitis, if left untreated, will grumble along and cause people to have a chronic sinus infection.
Some people think thats two separate things, with chronic sinusitis more likely due to underlying issues like allergies or immune problems.
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Home Remedies For Sinus Infection:
Uncomplicated acute sinus infection can be treated at home. Or home remedies can also be used along with conventional medical therapy.
Rest Take adequate rest as your body is already working enough to fight infection. Another reason to get good rest is so that you dont spread the infection at your workplace, school or institution.
Water Drink plenty to water to not just stay hydrated but water also helps to flush out toxins from the body making recovery easier.
Steam Inhaling steam decongests your air passages allowing the sinuses to drain easily.
Essential Oil Menthol is a well-known essential oil for blocked sinuses. It can be used along with steam to inhale.
Kitchen Herbs Our kitchen itself can provide the best of natural remedies to fight infections. You can use natural anti-infective and anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric, ginger, and garlic.
Signs And Symptoms Of Sinusitis:
A case of acute sinusitis presents with the following signs and symptoms:
- Facial pain and tenderness on pressure
- Nasal congestion
By Jessi Cole, January 2, 2019
Winter is a season for sinusitis and sinus infections, and that often means lost productivity, as workers either call in sick or try to power through. Its difficult to be at your best when youre suffering from the symptoms of a sinus infection, and your productivity will almost always take a hit as a result. But is it necessary to call out of work, for the sake of your own health as well as that of others?
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Sinus Infection Treatment Timeline With Antibiotics
Our sinuses are hard to reach, so it can be two to three days before antibiotic treatment begins to take effect.
It is critical to continue the whole course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better. If you dont finish the whole course, your body could begin to build a resistance to those antibiotics. This makes future treatment more difficult.
Sometimes, patients experience negative side effects while taking antibiotics. If you experience rash, hives or have difficulty breathing while taking antibiotics, call your doctor immediately. You may be experiencing an allergic reaction. In older adults, some types of antibiotics may cause inflammation in tendons.
In addition to clearing your sinuses of infection, antibiotics also work in other parts of your body, particularly the gut. This could cause diarrhea, so you may want to take a probiotic as well.
How Long Does It Take For A Sinus Infection To Go Away With Antibiotics
Fatigue. Long bouts of fatigue is a common symptom of a sinus infection. The infection itself can cause this, but the other symptoms also intensify it. Being unable to sleep through the night due to coughing or a sore throat will also make this lethargic feeling worse, especially when it persists through the duration of the illness. Advertisement.
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