What Causes Chronic Sinus Infection
Multiple factors acting together usually contribute to chronic sinusitis.
People with allergies are more prone to develop chronic sinusitis. About one in five people with chronic sinusitis also have asthma. This is because the linings of your nose and sinuses are in continuation with the linings of your lungs. These people are also likely to have nasal polyps .
A bacterial or viral infection can also trigger the condition. The infection is often low grade. The bacteria confine themselves in stubborn biofilms, making it difficult for your immune system or antibiotics to find and attack them.
An overlap of additional factors such as smoking, environmental pollutants, and deviated septum, further complicate the picture of chronic sinusitis.
It would be more appropriate to say that if youre already prone to allergies and nasal polyps, it becomes easier for harmful bugs, especially fungi to penetrate your sinuses. Likewise, a weak immune system makes you more susceptible to catch bacterial, viral, or fungal sinus infection.
A sinus that is inflamed and swollen can no longer sweep away the excess mucus and harmful agents due to the blockage of tiny hairs that facilitate this function.
Sinus Pain And Pressure
Fluid trapped in the sinuses can fill the sinus cavities, causing intense pain and pressure. The sinuses may be sensitive to the touch. A person may have an urge to sneeze but be unable to do so.
The pain can be in the cheeks, around the eyes and nose, or in the forehead because these areas are where the sinuses are. Bending over may make the pain worse.
Sometimes, the pressure and pain are intense enough to interfere with sleep.
Sinusitis may also cause the tissue in the nose to swell.
What Is The Function Of The Sinuses
The human skull contains four major pairs of hollow air-filled cavities called sinuses. These are connected to the space between the nostrils and the nasal passage . Sinuses help insulate the skull, reduce its weight, and allow the voice to resonate within it. The four major pairs of sinuses are:
The sinuses contain defenses against viruses and bacteria . The sinuses are covered with a mucous layer and cells that contain tiny hairs on their surface that help trap and propel bacteria and pollutants outward.
Acute sinusitis typically lasts less than eight weeks or occurs no more than three times per year with each episode lasting no longer than 10 days. Medications are generally effective against acute sinusitis. Successful treatment counteracts damage done to the mucous lining of the sinuses and surrounding bone of the skull.
Chronic or recurring sinusitis lasts longer than eight weeks or occurs more than four times per year, with symptoms usually lasting more than 20 days.
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Tips For Treating Chronic Sinus Infections
No matter the season, having a cold is never convenient. Its even worse when your cold turns into a sinus infection. A sinus infection will stick around long after symptoms of an upper respiratory infection are gone. You might even know its a sinus infection because you get sinus infections frequently. Perhaps your doctor diagnosed your sinus infection after you just couldnt seem to get better. After all, since almost 30 million Americans suffer from sinusitis, your doctor likely treats them a lot.
The question is, when do you need to see a specialist? If your sinus infection just isnt going away, or if you seem to get recurrent sinus infections, it may be time to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
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.
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Schedule An Appointment With Independence Ear Nose & Throat
At Independence Ear, Nose & Throat, we have the expertise and experience to diagnose your symptoms and prescribe the proper ear, nose, & throat treatment to make your life easier. All you have to do is call us today at 772-888-1880, and well book you an appointment with one of our hearing health professionals.
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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.
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How Do You Know If Your Sinus Infection Is Getting Better
Lets say you do have a fever and thick, yellowish mucus. Odds are its a sinus infection. But how do you know whether or not its a bacterial sinus infection?If youre on day 3 or 4 of an infection, it will be difficult to ascertain what kind of infection you have on your own.
However, if youre somewhere between day 7 and day 11, this is what you should be on the lookout for:
- Fever is completely gone or noticeably improving
- Your congestion and discharge is obviously lessening
- You dont feel as fatigued as you did a few days ago
The theme here is obvious improvement. If your situation is improving, then you probably have a viral sinus infection and do not need antibiotics. If your situation is not improving , schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Your Sinusitis Wont Go Away Heres What You Need To Know
Sinusitis also known as a sinus infection is, for the most part, a bacterial infection caused by inflammation of the sinuses. Chronic and recurring long-lasting sinusitis can render you incapacitated and quickly eat up your sick days.
But when your sinusitis wont go away, what options do you have? This guide walks you through how to identify a sinus infection, what happens if you ignore it, how to treat your chronic sinusitis, and more.
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What The Treatment For Sinus Infections
In order to eradicate the infection, youll need an antibiotic.
Some people continue to experience a lingering sinus infection even after antibiotics. Sinuses are considered a closed cavity. Removing infection from a closed cavity can require more prolonged antibiotic usage compared to infections that occur in an open cavity .
A sinus infection might require 2-4 weeks of antibiotics plus additional methods to encourage drainage of the sinuses. For a sinus infection to clear completely, we often recommend saline sprays, topical steroid sprays , and decongestants in addition to an antibiotic.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection
So if you’ve ever had a sinus infection before, you know they feel pretty miserable: The more common symptoms are nasal congestion, discolored mucous from the nose, post nasal drainage, facial pain, facial pressure, decreased smell and taste, says Dr. Duyka. Some patients also experience ear pain, upper tooth pain, sore throat, bad breath, and/or cough.
But here’s some quick advice: That whole thing about the color of your snot telling you whether or not you have a bacterial or viral infection? That’s a myth, Donald Ford, MD, a family medicine physician at the Cleveland Clinic, tells Health. “The green-yellow color of mucus that can develop is a byproduct of our own white blood cells, which we use to fight any kind of infection, viral or bacterial, so we cant tell the cause from the color of the mucus,” she says. When mucus is thick and dark it usually suggests some mild dehydration, and you should increase fluid intake and use lots of saline spray to keep the mucus thin.
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When To Visit An Ent
You may opt to visit an ENT if your sinus infection symptoms last more than one month. However, when a lingering sinus infection after antibiotics lasts more than 12 weeks, its definitely time to see a specialist.
If your doctor has treated you with antibiotics, saline, steroid sprays, antihistamines, and decongestants and youre still not better, youve entered into a confusing area. You need a thorough exam of your sinus pathways with a fiberoptic scope and a CT scan to properly diagnose the problem.
If at any point youre not sure whats going on and your primary care doctor isnt sure whats causing the symptoms, see an ENT for a more specialized exam.
When To Worry About Your Lingering Sinus Infection
Philip Scolaro, MD
Sinus infections have a way of making time stand still in a bad way. When youre constantly congested, battling headaches, and feeling sinus pressure, even a short duration of sickness can feel like its never going to end.
What if it doesnt? If your lingering sinus infection becomes chronic, it may be time for more aggressive treatment.
Heres what you need to know about sinus infections and when its time to take the next step in treatment.
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Chronic Sinus Infection
Chronic sinusitis emerges more insidiously than acute sinusitis. At times, however, the symptoms start suddenly and may resemble that of the common cold or acute sinusitis that just wont go away.
Chronic sinusitis is most likely if you have two or more of the following symptoms:
- Nasal congestion or stuffy nose
- Mucus and pus-like discharge
- Postnasal drip
- Facial pain, pressure around your eyes and nose, or fullness
- Partial or complete loss of your sense of smell
Chronic cough, sore throat, and fatigue may also be seen in a chronic sinus infection. That said, these symptoms are not required for the diagnosis of chronic rhinosinusitis.
What Is A Sinus Infection
A sinus infection, medically known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, occurs when your nasal cavities become infected, swollen, and inflamed. Fluid buildup in the sinuses can cause germs to grow, leading to a sinus infection.
Sinusitis is usually caused by a virus and often lasts even after other upper respiratory symptoms are gone. In some cases, bacteria or, rarely, fungus may cause a sinus infection.
Common Symptoms Of A Bacterial Sinus Infection
- Same symptoms of a viral sinus infection
- Symptoms start to worsen after 7-10 days
- Fever that lasts multiple days in a row
- Typically requires antibiotics
So, lets go back to the original question: Can you have a sinus infection without a fever? As you can now see, having or not having a fever wont always help you determine if you have a sinus infection.
However, one thing that you can say with more certainty is that you probably have a bacterial sinus infection if you have a fever that lasts multiple days and does not let up.
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.
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Causes Of Sinus Infection
There may be several causes of sinus infection. Typically a sinus infection starts from a cold, and develops because the mucus in your sinus does not drain properly and causes an infection in your sinus cavity. Most sinus infections are viral but some are bacterial.
Allergies can also cause a sinus infection. More severe causes included a deviated septum, nasal bone spur, or polyps in your nose. If you have recurrent acute sinusitis, your doctor may run additional tests to rule out a different medical condition causing your sinus infections.
What Is The Treatment For Chronic Sinus Infection
When it comes to treating chronic sinusitis, theres no one-size-fits-all solution. While several treatment options are available, what works for one person may not be appropriate for the other. Hence, we tailor the treatment to each individuals needs, symptoms, and whether or not other conditions are also at play.
The goals of treating chronic sinusitis are to address the allergic causes, minimize inflammation, promote free sinus drainage, and eradicate the infection .
Here are a few potential treatment options for chronic sinusitis. We will likely try out a combination of two or more of these options to see what works best for you.
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How Can You Treat Nasal Discharge
Your recommended treatment plan will depend on the underlying cause of your nasal discharge. In many cases, you can take steps to relieve your symptoms using simple home remedies. In some cases, your doctor may recommend medications or other treatments.
If a cold or flu is causing your nasal discharge, your treatment options may be limited. In most cases, your body will recover on its own. You should be sure to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Over-the-counter medications may help relieve some of your symptoms. If your flu symptoms are severe, your doctor might prescribe you an antiviral medication. This may reduce the time it takes for you to heal.
A More In Depth Explanation Of Sinusitis
Acute sinusitis causes the cavities around your nasal passages to become inflamed and swollen. This interferes with drainage and causes mucus to build up.
With acute sinusitis, it might be difficult to breathe through your nose. The area around your eyes and face might feel swollen, and you might have throbbing facial pain or a headache.
Acute sinusitis is mostly caused by the common cold. Unless a bacterial infection develops, most cases resolve within a week to 10 days.
In most cases, home remedies are all that’s needed to treat acute sinusitis. However, persistent sinusitis can lead to serious infections and other complications. Sinusitis that lasts more than 12 weeks despite medical treatment is called chronic sinusitis.
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Surgical Treatment For Chronic Sinusitis
Although medical therapy and lifestyle tweaks are the first-line treatment for chronic rhinosinusitis, some people may fail to respond to optimal therapy. In such cases, Ear, Nose Throat and Allergy Specialist performs a surgery to widen up the blocked sinuses and remove any trapped mucus or polyps.
Other situations in which surgery could be considered include:
- When chronic sinusitis symptoms do not respond to the medical treatments listed above, and CT scan of your sinuses reveals complete blockage of one or more sinuses.
- When nasal polyps fail to shrink enough with steroids.
- When a severe deviation of the septum completely blocks your nose or hinders sinus drainage.
- When theres a suspicion of allergic fungal sinusitis. The sinuses in allergic fungal sinusitis get clogged with thick, dense mucus that is hard to remove in any way other than surgery.
Symptoms That Last 10 Days
Sinus infections are not fun. While most sinus infections will get better on its own without antibiotics, thats not always the case. See your doctor if your symptoms dont go away after 10 days. They can recommend some remedies to get you feeling better. Just make sure to seek medical attention sooner if you have a fever that lasts longer than a few days.
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How Do You Diagnose Chronic Sinusitis
The presence of two or more of the listed symptoms for at least three months raises the suspicion of a chronic sinus infection.
In such cases, we will evaluate you to confirm the diagnosis. This involves applying pressure on your sinuses to elicit tenderness. If the tenderness is positive, your sinuses are likely to be inflamed. We will then take a peek into your nose using a small flexible scope, and check for nasal polyps, pus-filled discharge, and deviated septum.
We may also recommend nasal endoscopy. This is an office procedure that enables us to view the interior of your nose and sinus passages. Its done with an instrument called an endoscope, which is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and a light. We will pass this scope into your nose and sinuses to look inside. Nasal endoscopy allows us to detect any swelling and polyps, as well as collect discharge from the infected area. This can help spot the cause of your infection and whats the best way to treat it.
If need be, we may also perform imaging in the form of a computed tomography to look for further problems.
Allergy skin tests look for allergic causes and to check for problems within your immune system may also be done.