How Sinus Infection Is Treated
The treatment for a sinus infection depends on the type of sinusitis and the source of the inflammation or infection. You might feel better with treatment for your symptoms as your sinus infection resolves.
Acute viral sinusitis can usually resolve on its own, acute bacterial sinusitis can usually be cured with antibiotics, and anti-fungal medications might be needed for treating fungal sinusitis, Getting treatment for allergies that might be contributing to an acute or chronic sinus infection can help, and endoscopic surgery may be needed in some cases of chronic sinusitis.
Treatment of chronic sinusitis may complicated, as abnormal tissue blocking the sinus cavities could require surgery.
Verywell / Tim Liedtke
What Is A Sinus Infection Or Sinusitis
Inflammation of the air cavities within the passages of the nose is referred to as sinusitis. Sinusitis can be caused by infection , but also can be caused by allergy and chemical irritation of the sinuses. A sinus infection occurs when a virus, bacterium, or fungus grows within a sinus.
- Sinusitis is one of the more common conditions that can afflict people throughout their lives.
- Sinusitis commonly occurs when environmental pollens irritate the nasal passages, such as with hay fever.
- Sinusitis can also result from irritants, such as chemicals or the use and/or abuse of over-the-counter nasal sprays, and
- illegal substances that may be snorted or inhaled through the nose.
About 30 million adults have “sinusitis.” Colds differ from sinusitis and are only caused by viruses and last about seven to 10 days while sinusitis may have many different causes , and usually last longer with more pronounced and variable symptoms.
When To See A Doctor
Itâs time to see a doctor if you have:
- A fever lasting longer than three to four days
- Severe symptoms, such as severe headache or migraine, or facial pain
- Symptoms that get worse after initially improving
- Symptoms lasting more than 10 days without improvement
Itâs important to properly diagnose viral and bacterial sinusitis because antibiotics may be necessary for a bacterial infection, but they cannot treat a viral sinus infection. Only your doctor can differentiate between acute bacterial sinus infection and a viral sinus infection.
If you have heart, kidney, or liver disease, your healthcare provider may consider different treatment.
If you feel worse or your symptoms do not improve with the antibiotic treatment after seven days, you should call your doctor to reevaluate.
What Is A Serious Sinus Infection Like
When sinus infections occur, theyre usually classified as either acute or subacute infections, meaning they go away in one to four weeks and are relatively minor.
The problem is chronic sinus infections, which often wont go away without intervention. If your sinus infection is persisting for longer than a month, and the symptoms are only getting worse, you may be suffering from chronic sinusitis. At that point, the infection is most likely bacterial, and your body will need the help of antibiotics to purge it.
Its very important to consult a healthcare professional before considering antibiotics, not only because youll require a prescription from a licensed doctor but because taking antibiotics more often than needed isnt good for your natural bacteria levels.
Which Types Of Doctors Treat Sinusitis And Sinus Infections
- Many sinus infections can be treated by your primary care physician or an Internal Medicine doctor.
- However, it is not unusual to consult an ENT specialist, infectious disease specialist, or an allergist or immunologist.
- With some complex sinus infections, a surgeon who specializes in sinus surgery may be necessary to consult.
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Make The Sinus Pain And Mind
âTechniques that take advantage of the mind-body connection, such as deep breathing practices and relaxation exercises, can be very effective for relieving sinus pain,â notes Das. These practices rely on the mindâs ability to influence pain perception and are especially helpful with chronic or recurrent pain that is often seen with sinus pressure. Some examples include biofeedback, meditation, yoga, and hypnotherapy.
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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 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.
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Sinus Infection Medication For Viral Causes
Viral sinus infections are usually a symptom of the common cold or other viruses. When these viruses take a toll on your body, they sometimes spread to your sinuses and cause inflammation over time.
While you may be able to fend off a full-blown sinus infection with over-the-counter solutions, once youre at a certain point of inflammation, you might require stronger meds that only a doctor can prescribe.
Is A Sinus Infection Contagious
How Will I Know if I Have a Sinus Infection?
The majority of doctors think that most people do not transmit sinus infections except in rare instances, and conclude that sinus infections are not contagious.
Sinus infections usually begin with the symptoms of a cold , and then develop into pain and pressure in the sinus cavities. About 7 to 10 days after initial cold-like symptoms other symptoms develop that suggest you may have a sinus infection. Sinus infection symptoms include
- a yellowish-greenish nasal discharge that may have an odor,
- bad breath,
- pressure in the sinuses, and
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What Home Remedies Can Help Relieve Sinus Congestion
When your nose is stuffy and congested, you can keep your nasal passages and sinuses moist by:
- Using a humidifier or vaporizer
- Inhaling steam from a hot shower or pot of hot water
- Drinking plenty of fluids to thin out the mucus
- Using a saline nasal spray to keep your nasal passages from drying out
- Applying a warm, wet towel to your face to help open up your sinuses
- Avoiding chlorinated pools
- Trying a neti pot or nasal irrigator to flush out the sinuses
- Keeping your head elevated when lying down
- Avoiding blowing your nose too forcefully, which can force the mucus into your ears or other parts of the sinuses
- Applying eucalyptus oil to a tissue paper and sleeping next to it or adding it to hot water and inhaling the steam
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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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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What To Look For When Buying Otc Sinus Decongestants
When youre figuring out which decongestant to buy, youll need to determine whats causing your congestion.
If its allergies, youll probably want a product that contains an antihistamine ingredient like diphenhydramine. Antihistamines target your bodys immune response to allergens like pollen. Antihistamines usually make the person taking them a bit drowsy, so keep in mind taking them at any time other than bedtime may have you needing a nap.
If you have cold or flu symptoms, you may be looking for a product that includes phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine. These ingredients work by shrinking your blood vessels, which can help you breathe more easily and reduce the symptoms of a sinus headache or a stuffy nose.
However, both of these ingredients can cause you to feel restless and can make it difficult to fall asleep. These types of drugs can also make you nauseous. Generally, phenylephrine may have fewer serious side effects than pseudoephedrine. You should always consult a doctor before taking these meds if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Some OTC sinus decongestant formulas include both antihistamines and decongestant ingredients, and some add pain relief ingredients such as ibuprofen to their formula. Its best to treat for symptoms that you have, not for additional symptoms that you dont have.
Treating your congestion with OTC products doesnt always provide relief. You should seek professional medical care if you experience any of the following:
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What Causes A Sinus Headache
Inflammation of the tissues lining the sinuses is the primary cause of a sinus headache. The inflamed tissues swell and produce secretions that clog the normal drainage system of the sinuses, causing a build-up of fluid and secretions. The pressure of this fluid build-up causes the pain of a sinus headache. Inflammation of the sinuses is known as sinusitis. The inflammation may arise due to an
Most commonly, infectious sinusitis is due to a viral infection, but bacterial and fungal infections of the sinuses can also occur. Since the maxillary sinuses are located in the cheekbone, infections of the upper teeth can spread into these sinuses. In very rare cases, benign or malignant tumors can invade and block drainage in the sinuses and lead to a sinus headache.
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When To See Your Doctor
You need to seek medical help if:
- You have symptoms that last two weeks or longer, or a cold that gets worse after the first week.
- Your headache is not relieved by standard medication.
- Fever is present.
- You have symptoms after finishing your antibiotics.
- Your vision has changed during the infection.
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What Medications Are Used To Treat Sinus Infections
First and foremost, if you are suffering from an active bacterial sinus infection you may be treated with antibiotics. Depending on whether you have acute sinusitis or chronic sinusitis will determine your course of therapy.As acute sinusitis may require 10 -14 days of antibiotic therapy chronic sinusitis may need to be treated for up to 30 days with medication.Remember Most cases of sinusitis are caused by viruses such as the common cold and will clear up within 10 or so days. In this case, antibiotics will not be helpful as antibiotics kill bacteria not viruses. Based upon your symptoms, medical history and physical examination your doctor will help determine if antibiotics are necessary.
Sinus headaches hurt. Sometimes the pain and pressure can make basic everyday activities impossible to do. So many times those suffering from sinusitis will take an over the counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen . Make sure to follow the labeled directions and see your doctor if your symptoms havent improved after a week or if they worsen.
Aerosolized antibiotics, steroids and antifugal treatments:
These may be administered through an aerosol or a nasal rinse. Frequently a compounding pharmacy is required to create this rinse.
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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.
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Treatment For Sinusitis From A Gp
If you have sinusitis, a GP may be able to recommend other medicines to help with your symptoms, such as:
- steroid nasal sprays or drops â to reduce the swelling in your sinuses
- antihistamines â if an allergy is causing your symptoms
- antibiotics â if a bacterial infection is causing your symptoms and youre very unwell or at risk of complications
You might need to take steroid nasal sprays or drops for a few months. They sometimes cause irritation, sore throats or nosebleeds.
A GP may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist if, for example, you:
- still have sinusitis after 3 months of treatment
- keep getting sinusitis
- only have symptoms on 1 side of your face
They may also recommend surgery in some cases.
Pathogenesis Of Acute Sinusitis
Acute sinusitis usually follows an acute upper respiratory tract infection . As the viral infection spreads in the nasal mucosa, swelling and oedema of the mucosa results. As the mucosal surfaces of the ostiomeatal unit are in close proximity to one another , obstruction of the sinus ostia results. In addition, the viral infection may reduce normal cilial motility. This prevents normal muco-ciliary clearance resulting in an accumulation of mucus in the sinuses and the development of the symptoms of sinusitis. If this mucus becomes secondarily infected by bacteria, acute bacterial sinusitis develops.
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What Causes Nasal And Sinus Pain
Nasal and sinus membranes respond to viruses, allergic triggers, and common bacterial infections similarly. The membranes become swollen and congested. The congestion then causes pain and pressure. Your mucus production increases during the inflammation. This results in a runny nose. The nasal secretions may begin to thicken and slow the drainage. This can result in a sinus bacterial infection.
When the nasal membranes become congested, it may block the eustachian tubes leading to the ears, which results in a feeling of pressure in the ear or fluid behind the eardrum. Nasal airway congestion causes mouth breathing.
Every year, over 37 million Americans suffer from sinusitis. This includes nasal congestion, thick yellow-green mucus, facial pain, and pressure around the eyes. Frequently, before visiting a doctor, people try to get relief for their nasal and sinus discomfort by taking non-prescription or over-the-counter medications.
What Are The Best Antibiotics For Sinus Infection Do Doctors Prescribe For You
There are many antibiotics that your doctor or physician may prescribe to help treat your sinus infection. Some of these may even be familiar to you.
These antibiotics are effective in treating sinus infection, however, these drugs do carry side effects. You should only be taken according to what your doctor or physician has prescribed. Always follow their instructions to achieve the best results.
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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
What Are Common Side Effects Of Sinus Infection Medications
The most common side effects of sinus infection medications differ by the type of medication you use. Decongestants tend to cause nervousness, insomnia, and a loss of appetite. Side effects of antibiotics include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Antihistamines and steroids can cause dizziness and sleep disturbances.
This is not an exhaustive list of sinus infection medication side effects. If you experience any adverse reactions from a medication or treatment, its always best to consult with your healthcare provider.
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