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.
How Acute Otitis Media Occurs In Children
The eustachian tube can become blocked by swelling in the nose and throat , swelling of the middle ear mucous membrane, or swelling of the mucous membrane of the eustachian tube itself. The blocked eustachian tube prevents the air pressure in the middle ear from equalizing. A negative pressure is created, and this can draw fluid into the air-filled space of the middle ear. Fluid trapped in the middle ear can lead to thicker mucous, the presence of bacteria, inflammation, and infection.
Children are much more likely to develop ear infections for several reasons. The eustachian tubes in young children are shorter and more horizontal than they are in older children and adults. This allows bacteria and viruses to reach the middle ear more easily. The tubes are also narrower in young children, which makes blockages more common. Often young children have large adenoids. These tissue collections are located near the eustachian tubes and can cause blockages when they are swollen or infected.
Other factors can also increase the likelihood and frequency of Acute Otitis Media in children.
- Recent cold or flu
- Exposure to cigarette smoke or air pollution
- Changes in altitude
- Changes in climate or colder climates
- Bottle-feeding instead of breastfeeding
- A feeling of fullness in the ear
- Vomiting and diarrhea
What Are The Symptoms Of A Middle
Common symptoms of a middle-ear infection in adults are:
Pain in 1 or both ears
Drainage from the ear
You may also have a fever. Rarely, your balance can be affected.
These symptoms may be the same as for other conditions. Its important totalk with your health care provider if you think you have a middle-earinfection. If you have a high fever, severe pain behind your ear, orparalysis in your face, see your provider as soon as you can.
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When Should I Call The Doctor About An Ear Infection
- You or your child develops a stiff neck.
- Your child acts sluggish, looks or acts very sick, or does not stop crying despite all efforts.
- Your childs walk is not steady he or she is physically very weak.
- You or your childs ear pain is severe.
- You or your child has a fever over 104° F .
- Your child is showing signs of weakness in their face .
- You see bloody or pus-filled fluid draining from the ear.
- The fever remains or comes back more than 48 hours after starting an antibiotic.
- Ear pain is not better after three days of taking an antibiotic.
- Ear pain is severe.
- You have any questions or concerns.
How Do I Know If I Have A Sinus Infection
Symptoms of a sinus infection often include headaches caused by the pressure and swelling of the sinuses or sinus cavities. Serious sinus pressure may mean your ears wont pop. Other symptoms include pain in your ears, pain below your eyes, and sinus discharge, which will appear as a green-yellow color. Sinus discharge, which may inflame your sinuses, can result in congestion.
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How Is Sinusitis Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask you a lot of questions in order to develop a detailed medical history and find out about your symptoms. They will also do a physical examination. During the exam, your care provider will check your ears, nose and throat for any swelling, draining or blockage. An endoscope may be used to look inside the nose. In some cases, you might be referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist. If you needed an imaging exam, your provider would order a computed tomography scan.
Thick Colored Nasal Secretions
Generally, thick nasal secretions are one of the symptoms of sinus infection. The secretions can be greenish, yellowish, white, or tinged with the blood. If these secretions drip into your back of the throat, it may be difficult to clear the throat. With one sinus infection, you are likely to have one stuffy nose. Your face can also feel full.
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Structure Of The Middle Ear
outer ear or auditory canalmiddle ear eardrum
A narrow passage called the eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the throat and nose. The eustachian tube functions to control the airflow and pressure inside the middle ear. It lies closed and opens with the swallowing movement allowing air to enter the middle ear. This mechanism maintains a constant pressure gradient and replaces the oxygen that has been absorbed by the lining of the middle ear. Sometimes the pressure is not equalized with the environment outside. This can be felt on an airplane or at high altitudes and may cause some discomfort.
The tympanic cavity also plays an important role in hearing. Three small bones called ossicles are found in the middle ear. These bones form a chain and conduct sound vibrations from the eardrum to the fluid-filled inner ear. Sounds are then converted into nerve impulses and carried to the brain by the auditory nerve.
Extending from the air space of the middle ear is the mastoid bone. It is made of small, connected air spaces and resembles a honeycomb. The structures that are responsible for facial expressions and balance are found in this part of the inner ear. While the exact function of this bone is not clear, it is known to be involved in chronic ear infections.
Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection
You also may experience nasal congestion , facial pain, and an overall sense of pressure in your face and forehead. In some cases, you may even experience pain in your upper teeth.
Symptoms of sinusitis may also resemble those of allergies or asthma. Those who suffer from allergy and asthma symptoms may also be especially susceptible to sinus infections, so it’s important to get an assessment from your ENT.
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How To Treat A Sinus Infection
In the case of sinus infections , pain medication is rarely prescribed. Patients will be encouraged to try a sinus rinse using a Neti Pot before moving on to more serious interventions.
In cases of acute sinusitis, patients may also experience cold-like symptoms. If these symptoms dont get better or appear to get worse after 5-7 days, your doctor may decide to treat the sinus infection with antibiotics along with nasal decongestant, nasal sprays, and saline solution.
In severe cases of sinus infections, your doctor may decide to prescribe steroids. For those who experience chronic sinusitis, it’s recommended to seek care from an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist.
Theres only one thing worse than suffering from a sinus infection or an ear infection: suffering from both at the same time. Unfortunately, anything that causes nasal swelling can cause swelling of the middle ear space because the nose is congested. So cases in which you have a sinus infection and ear infection at the same time can be especially painful.
When it comes to different infections in the ear, nose, and throat, its easy to get your wires crossed and find that you arent quite sure whats going on in your body.
How Can I Prevent Sinusitis
Some of the home remedies used to treat sinus infections symptoms may help prevent sinusitis. These include rinsing your nose out with salt water and using medications that your provider might suggest, such as allergy medications or steroid nasal sprays.
You should avoid things you are allergic to, like dust, pollen or smoke, and try to avoid sick people. Wash your hands to reduce your chance of getting a cold or flu.
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How Is An Ear Infection Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will look at your or your childs ear using an instrument called an otoscope. A healthy eardrum will be pinkish gray in color and translucent . If infection is present, the eardrum may be inflamed, swollen or red.
Your healthcare provider may also check the fluid in the middle ear using a pneumatic otoscope, which blows a small amount of air at the eardrum. This should cause the eardrum to move back and forth. The eardrum will not move as easily if there is fluid inside the ear.
Another test, tympanometry, uses air pressure to check for fluid in the middle ear. This test doesnt test hearing. If needed, your healthcare provider will order a hearing test, performed by an audiologist, to determine possible hearing loss if you or your child has had long lasting or frequent ear infections or fluid in the middle ears that is not draining.
Your healthcare provider will also check your throat and nasal passage and listen to your breathing with a stethoscope for signs of upper respiratory infections.
Sinus Infections: Your Top 5 Questions Answered
Cold and flu season isnt quite over yet. If you have congestion that includes sinus pressure, you may have a coldor it could be a sinus infection. How can you be sure that its one or the other, and when is it time to make an appointment with your doctor?
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Treating Outer Ear Infections
The outer ear should be carefully cleaned. That should be followed by the application of antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory medications on your ear.
Antibiotics may be prescribed if your doctor determines that the infection is bacterial.
If the infection is fungal, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal medication.
If you have a viral infection, you may simply need to tend to the irritation on your ear and wait for the infection to resolve itself. Depending on the type of virus involved, more specialized treatment may be necessary.
To help prevent an ear infection of any kind, follow these tips:
- Make sure you dry your ears completely after swimming or taking a shower.
- Try quitting smoking, and limit or avoid secondhand smoke when possible.
- Manage your allergies by avoiding triggers and keeping up with allergy medications.
- Wash your hands thoroughly, and try to limit contact with people who have colds or other upper respiratory problems.
- Make sure your vaccines are up to date.
When To See A Doctor
You should make an appointment to see your doctor if:
- You have a fever higher than 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit and experience purulent nasal discharge and/or facial pain for greater than three days.
- Nasal discharge and/or daytime cough have lasted longer than nine days, or if your symptoms seem to be worsening.
- If you seem to be developing additional symptoms, for example, you started with a cough, but now have a cough, and/or headache, and/or fever.
- If you have the symptoms of sinusitis and recently had an upper respiratory infection that lasted greater than six days.
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About Author: Laura Nightengale
Laura Nightengale was a writing coordinator for OSF HealthCare. She has a bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and worked as a reporter at a daily newspaper for five years before joining OSF HealthCare. When shes not working, Laura loves to travel, read, and spend time with her family, including her sweet and ornery dog.
Do I Need Antibiotics For Every Sinus Infection
Many sinus infections are caused by viruses, the ones that cause the common cold. These types of infections are not cured by antibiotics. Taking an antibiotic for a viral infection unnecessarily puts you at risk for side effects related to the antibiotic. In addition, the overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, which may make future infections more difficult to treat.
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What Are The Harms Of Fluid Buildup In Your Ears Or Repeated Or Ongoing Ear Infections
Most ear infections dont cause long-term problems, but when they do happen, complications can include:
- Loss of hearing: Some mild, temporary hearing loss usually occurs during an ear infection. Ongoing infections, infections that repeatedly occur, damage to internal structures in the ear from a buildup of fluid can cause more significant hearing loss.
- Delayed speech and language development: Children need to hear to learn language and develop speech. Muffled hearing for any length of time or loss of hearing can significantly delay or hamper development.
- Tear in the eardrum: A tear can develop in the eardrum from pressure from the long-lasting presence of fluid in the middle ear. About 5% to 10% of children with an ear infection develop a small tear in their eardrum. If the tear doesnt heal on its own, surgery may be needed. If you have drainage/discharge from your ear, do not place anything into your ear canal. Doing so can be dangerous if there is an accident with the item touching the ear drum.
- Spread of the infection: Infection that doesnt go away on its own, is untreated or is not fully resolved with treatment may spread beyond the ear. Infection can damage the nearby mastoid bone . On rare occasions, infection can spread to the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord and cause meningitis.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of An Inner Ear Infection
Ear infections can happen anywhere in your outer, middle or inner ear. The symptoms can be very different depending on where the problem is located. If the infection is in your inner ear then it can have a particularly dramatic effect on your senses of balance and hearing. Read on to learn more about inner ear infections and how they can affect you.
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Symptoms Of An Ear Infection
The primary symptoms of an ear infection include acute ear pain and hearing loss. You will have the sensation that your hearing is muffled or you’re experiencing hearing loss and you may experience referred pain in your throat or fluid in the middle ear.
When youre experiencing an ear infection, you may not necessarily see a change in color in or outside your ears.
How To Treat An Ear Infection
For mild to moderate ear infection pain, your doctor may decide to prescribe pain medication, ear drops and/or antibiotics to clear out the infection. For serious ear pain, your doctor may decide to lance your eardrum to let the infection drain out before the healing process begins.
Acute otitis media typically requires treatment from a physician.
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When To Seek Emergency Care
The following signs and symptoms can be caused by a serious infection.
- Fever above 101 degrees
- Swelling or redness around the eyes or eyelids difficulty opening or moving your eye a protruding eyeball
- Changes in your vision, including loss of acuity or double vision
- Excessive sleepiness or difficulty waking up
- Stiff neck
- A severe headache in the front of your head, one you might classify as one of the worst of your life.
Symptoms Of Ear Infections
- Intermittent mild dizziness
- Enlarged lymph nodes
Inner ear infections are usually preceded by upper respiratory tract symptoms such as cough, sinus pressure, nasal congestion, runny nose or sneezing, Kristin said.
Sometimes, the eardrum ruptures. This usually causes less pain and some bleeding from the ear.
If that happens, protect the ear from wind and do not submerge head underwater for about six weeks, Kristin said.
Symptoms of an outer ear infection might be slightly different:
- Pain with any touching or movement of the ear
- Ear may appear reddened or dark
- Swelling of the ear
- Facial pain on the same side as the infected ear
- Dental pain
- Fluid or pus leaking from the ear
- Feeling itchy in on or around the affected ear
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How Long Will It Take For My Child To Recover From An Ear Infection In
Ear infections heal in stages. Antibiotics are administered to help kill bacteria in the middle ear usually within a few days. Most symptoms of fever and discomfort resolve during this time. However, fluid may linger for several weeks and continue to interfere with hearing. It is important to follow up with your childs doctor within a months time to ensure the fluid is beginning to drain from the ear. If it lingers longer than normal, your doctor may become concerned about the potential for recurrent sinus infections, chronic colds, or allergies.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind:
It is important to see a doctor if your child begins to display the signs of ear infection. An accurate diagnosis is essential for successful treatment especially since some children can exhibit the symptoms of ear infection in association with a different condition, such as teething.
Blood and pus draining from your childs ear may be frightening, but they are nothing to be overly concerned about. This is a normal symptom of ear infection and may occur if your childs eardrum has ruptured. Most children heal and recover from this condition with no complications.
It is important to completely finish an entire course of prescribed antibiotics as instructed. Stopping early could allow the infection to return.