Signs And Symptoms Of Sinus Infection Or Sinusitis
When Is A Z
Spoiler alert: its not! Because its so easy to use, the Z-Pak used to be a go-to prescription for sinus infections. But it turns out that only a minority of these prescriptions are appropriate because the majority of sinus infections are viral and not bacterial. In fact, studies have found that about a third of antibiotic prescriptions for sinus infections, sore throats, and ear infections arent even necessary. Overprescribing antibiotics increases the chance that bacteria will become resistant to them and disrupt the gut bacterial flora for months. Indeed, azithromycin is no longer recommended for bacterial sinus infections due to the risk of resistance.
If you have a sinus infection, expect to feel lousy for several days. After all, your body is waging war against an infection. You might experience:
A runny nose
A sore throat
Youre also likely to feel more tired and achy and maybe even experience a low-grade fever. Most people improve within a week, but symptoms can last up to 2 weeks. Coughs can linger for a week after that.
Treating a sinus infection boils down to whether its viral or bacterial. Colds, for example, are viral. And antibiotics like the Z-Pak are not effective against viral infections. In fact, viral sinus infections have no cure. Treatment is aimed at managing symptoms and includes:
If you still dont feel better, your healthcare provider may suggest nasal or lung inhalers for other symptoms.
Feel Better Sooner Without Antibiotics
Instead of taking antibiotics for sinusitis, Consumer Reports chief medical adviser, Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., recommends that you get plenty of rest, rinse your nose with a saltwater sinus rinse or spray, drink warm fluids, and inhale steam from a hot bath, shower, or kettle. For pain, he says, try an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
If needed, your doctor can prescribe a prescription corticosteroid spray, such as fluticasone or triamcinolone. A systematic review published in JAMA in 2015 found that after saline irrigation, the second-best treatment for chronic sinusitis was a topical corticosteroid spray for a few days.
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Ways To Recognize Serious Signs Of Sinus Infections
The length of the infection is an important determinant of the seriousness of the infection.
I usually consider most infections less than 3 weeks to be viral or inflammation related to congestion. At this point, the best treatment is usually medications that decrease the congestion and inflammation. This in turn will alleviate the symptoms and ultimately cure the illness.
When the illness continues beyond 3 weeks, bacterial infection can begin to develop. Though antibiotics can be considered at this point, other treatments may still be the best answer if they have not yet been given a try.
#2: Mucous Color
I will dispel a myth right here and now. Yellowish/greenish mucous does not necessarily mean the infection is bacterial.
Viruses can cause the same color mucous. The reason for the mucous is generally not the actual bacteria or virus, but the bodys immune response to the intruder.
So dont worry just because you see a colored mucous when you blow your nose. This will also improve as the infection abates.
#3: Sinus Pain
Sinus pain can occur anytime throughout a sinus infection. This is normal and means there is inflammation in the sinuses, as we discussed previously.
However, severe pain, redness over the skin, hardened skin over the sinuses, or even a severe headache are not generally normal and can indicate a bacterial infection.
A fever can be caused by both viruses and bacteria. So how do you differentiate between the two?
What Are The Six Types Of Sinusitis And Sinus Infections
Sinusitis may be classified in several ways, based on its duration and the type of inflammation . The term rhinosinusitis is used to imply that both the nose and sinuses are involved and is becoming the preferred term over sinusitis.
- Acute sinus infection usually lasts less than 3-5 days.
- Subacute sinus infection lasts one to three months.
- Chronic sinus infection is greater than three months. Chronic sinusitis may be further sub-classified into chronic sinusitis with or without nasal polyps, or allergic fungal sinusitis.
- Recurrent sinusitis has several sinusitis attacks every year.
There is no medical consensus on the above time periods.
- Infected sinusitis usually is caused by an uncomplicated virus infection. Less frequently, bacterial growth causes sinus infection and fungal sinus infection is very infrequent. Subacute and chronic forms of a sinus infection usually are the result of incomplete treatment of an acute sinus infection.
- Noninfectious sinusitis is caused by irritants and allergic conditions and follows the same general timeline for acute, subacute, and chronic as infectious sinusitis.
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Cold And Sinus Infection Symptoms
Because a sinus infection often develops due to a cold, it can be difficult to tell if you have a cold or sinus infection. In general, sinus infections tend to cause more pain, pressure or fullness in the sinuses than a cold does. Symptoms of a sinus infection include:
- Facial pressure, fullness or pain, especially on one side.
- Pain in your teeth.
- Mild headache or body aches.
Most Sinus Infections Dont Require Antibiotics
Ah, . The New England Journal of Medicine published a clinical practice review of acute sinus infections in adults, that is, sinus infections of up to four weeks. The need for an updated review was likely spurred by the disconcerting fact that while the vast majority of acute sinus infections will improve or even clear on their own without antibiotics within one to two weeks, most end up being treated with antibiotics.
It is this discrepancy that has clinical researchers and public health folks jumping up and down in alarm, because more unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics mean more side effects and higher bacterial resistance rates. But on the other hand, while 85% of sinus infections improve or clear on their own, theres the 15% that do not. Potential complications are rare, but serious, and include brain infections, even abscesses.
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What Is A Sinus Headache
- A sinus headache is the result of inflammation and a build-up of pressure within the sinuses of the skull.
- The sinuses are cavities or pockets located within the bones of the skull.
- In addition to contributing to the strength and stability of the skull, the sinuses help to humidify and filter the air.
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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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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.
Common Antibiotics For Sinus Infections
Antibiotics may be prescribed when symptoms of a sinus infection warrant such treatment. Common antibiotics for sinus infection include:
- Levaquin : Although this drug is often prescribed as a first line of therapy for sinusitis, it has serious side effects and should only be used as a last resort.
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Do You Have To Take Antibiotics For A Sinus Infection
Answer itinfectionsinus infectionsdoantibioticsantibiotics
So, what is the drug of choice for sinusitis?
What antibiotics are used to treat chronic sinusitis?
acute sinusitisamoxicillincefpodoxime proxetilcefuroximegatifloxacinmoxifloxacinlevofloxacin
What medicine is best for sinusitis?
When To Consider Antibiotics For Sinus Infections
AAAAI advises that antibiotics for sinus infections should be considered only if you develop a fever of 102° F or higher, you have severe face pain and tenderness, your symptoms last longer than a week or so, or your symptoms improve and then worsen again.
Some patients with acute sinusitis do need antibiotics, and if they continue with a worsening infection without treatment, they can suffer dramatic complications such as loss of vision, meningitis, or brain abscess, Patel says.
If your doctor says you need an antibiotic, ask for generic amoxicillin/clavulanate, according to guidelines from UpToDate, which provides evidence-based treatment information to healthcare providers. Its usually the best choice and works as well as more expensive brand-name antibiotics.
Avoid taking fluoroquinolones, a group of antibiotics that includes ciprofloxacin and levofloxacin . Although widely used, the antibiotics are inappropriate for treating sinus infections and they pose serious risks.
In 2016, after a safety review, the Food and Drug Administration linked fluoroquinolones to disabling and potentially permanent side effects. The agency advised against using the drugs to treat common illnessesbronchitis, sinus infections, and urinary tract infections.
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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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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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What Decongestants And Nasal Sprays Soothe Or Cure Sinus Infections Or Sinusitis
Taking decongestants and mucolytics orally may be helpful in assisting drainage of sinus infection.
The treatment of chronic forms of sinus infection requires longer courses of medications, such as Augmentin, and may require a sinus drainage procedure. This drainage typically requires a surgical operation to open the blocked sinus under general anesthesia. In general, antihistamines should be avoided unless it is felt that the sinusitis sinus infection is due to allergies, such as from pollens, dander, or other environmental causes.
It is likely that the use of a topical nasal steroid spray will help reduce swelling in the allergic individual without the drying that is caused by using antihistamines although both are occasionally used. Oral steroids may be prescribed to reduce acute inflammation and to help with chronic inflammation in cases with or without polyps and in allergic fungal sinusitis.
In many people, allergic sinusitis develops first, and later, bacterial infection occurs. For these individuals, early treatment of allergic sinusitis may prevent the development of secondary bacterial sinusitis.
In rare instances or in natural disasters, fungal infections may develop in debilitated people. Death rates of 50%-85% have been reported for patients with these sinus infections. Treatment relies on early diagnosis followed by immediate surgical debridement, antifungal drugs, , and stabilizing any underlying health problem such as diabetes.
Sinus Infection Definition And Facts
- Sinusitis or sinus infection is inflammation of the air cavities within the passages of the nose.
- Sinusitis can be caused by infection, allergies, and chemical or particulate irritation of the sinuses.
- The fastest way to get rid of a sinus infection can include medications, home remedies, alternative therapies, and surgery.
- Most people do not spread sinus infections to other people.
- Sinusitis may be classified as acute sinus infection, subacute sinus infection, chronic sinus infection, infected sinusitis, and noninfectious sinusitis.
- Sinusitis signs and symptoms include
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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.
Can Sinus Infections Or Sinusitis Be Prevented
Currently, there are no vaccines designed specifically against infectious sinusitis or sinus infections. However, there are vaccines against viruses and bacteria that may cause some infectious sinusitis. Vaccination against pathogens known to cause infectious sinusitis may indirectly reduce or prevent the chance of getting the disease however, no specific studies support this assumption. Fungal vaccines against sinusitis are not available, currently.
If you are prone to recurrent bouts of a “yearly sinus infection” it may be important to consider allergy testing to see if this is the underlying cause of the recurring problem. Treatment of the allergy may prevent secondary bacterial sinus infections. In addition, sinus infections may be due to other problems such as nasal polyps, tumors, or diseases that obstruct normal mucus flow. Treatment of these underlying causes may prevent recurrent sinus infections.
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Personal Stories About Antibiotics For Sinusitis
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
I’ve had sinusitis a few times. So when my doctor suggested I take an antibiotic, I asked him if I really needed it. He said I would probably get better faster if I took the medicine. But I know from the other times that I’ll probably be okay in a week or so anyway. So we decided to wait and see instead of trying antibiotics.
I can’t wait to feel better. It seems like I’ve had bad sinus pain for the longest time. It’s been at least 2 weeks. Nasal sprays aren’t helping. I’m going to ask my doctor for antibiotics.
I thought I just had a bad cold, but my doctor says I have sinusitis caused by a bacterial infection. I’ve been doing all the right things at home, but it isn’t going away. I think antibiotics are the next step for me.
I thought I’d get my doctor to give me some antibiotics for my sinusitis. Then I’d be over it sooner. But it turns out that antibiotics won’t help me, since my sinusitis started as a cold. I didn’t know that antibiotics don’t always work. I’m going to wait it out instead.
John, age 52