When Do You Need To See An Otolaryngologist For Sinus Care
Otolaryngologists are uniquely trained to examine and manage all kinds of sinus disease. When patients have chronic sinus symptoms for longer than 3 months, sinus symptoms that persist despite antibiotics, or recurrent sinus infections, they should be evaluated by an Otolaryngologist. Otolaryngologists use state-of-the-art equipment including cameras to uniquely examine the nasal cavity and drainage pathways of the sinuses. In doing so, Otolaryngologists can identify all types of sinus disease, and make recommendations which may include a CAT scan of sinuses, endoscopic sinus surgery, antibiotics, sinus irrigations, or a unique combination of prescription nasal sprays depending on the diagnosis.
If these symptoms sound like something youve experienced or if youre plagued by constant sinus issues, its time to make an appointment with an Otolaryngologist. An examination by an ear, nose, and throat specialist near you can help get you back to health. Visit our website to learn more and book an appointment today!
Anatomy Of The Paranasal Sinuses
The paranasal sinuses comprise four pairs of sinuses that surround the nose and drain into the nasal cavity by way of narrow channels called ostia . Mucus leaving the frontal and maxillary sinuses drains through the ethmoid sinuses , so a backup in the ethmoids is likely to clog the other two types of sinuses. The sphenoid sinuses are located deep in the skull, behind the eyes. Sinusitis develops when one or more sinuses become blocked.
There are millions of bacteria in our noses, and most of the time, they’re harmless. Even when a few creep into the sinuses, they don’t cause trouble, as long as they keep draining into the nose along with mucus. But if sinus drainage is blocked, glands in the sinuses continue to produce mucus, and the resulting pool of backed-up mucus provides what Dr. Metson calls “the perfect culture medium.” The bacteria grow out of control, causing infection, and the immune system kicks off an inflammatory response. The result: swelling, which causes and facial pain mucus buildup, which produces congestion and an influx of white blood cells to fight the bacteria, which thickens the mucus and may tint it yellow or green. Other symptoms include loss of smell or taste, cough, bad breath, fever, toothache, and fullness in the ears.
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 initially improving.
- Symptoms lasting more than 10 days without improvement.
- 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
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Irrigate Your Sinuses To Help Ease Symptoms And Prevent Sinus Infections
Nasal irrigation is basically a method of using a saltwater solution to force out germs and plugged-up mucus residing in the sinus passages. Other terms for this are nasal wash, nasal douche, or lavage. Some people refer to it by one of the popular devices used to get the water in, a neti pot.
A small number of studies has found irrigation can improve symptoms, including one review published in September 2016 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Experts caution that it is important to use distilled or sterile water to avoid the rare possibility of introducing a parasite into your sinus passageways.
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.
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Testing Your Breathing Abilities
To see how well you breathe, you should try a little exercise. Close your mouth and breathe only through your nose. Is it hard for you to pull the air into your lungs? Can you hear rattling as you inhale, trying to move oxygen through your system?
Take your finger and close off one of your nostrils. How much more effort does it require you to take a breath with your mouth closed and only one nostril in use? Now, try this exercise with the other nostril. Can you breathe better out of one side of your nose, or is the airflow even?
If there is a in your nose, then it can cause severe breathing difficulties. When the variation is critical, you may be able to see it outside of your body in the form of a crooked nose or abnormally shaped nose hole. Get a mirror and flashlight and investigate your nose cavities.
Do you see a perfectly straight piece of cartilage in the middle, or do you see one side is curved and odd shaped? These simple tests wont give you a definitive diagnosis. Still, it will tell you if you need further evaluation and see if a septum deviation is a cause for your chronic sinusitis and other breathing issues.
Potential Causes Of Increased Congestion And Sinus Issues At Night
When it comes to determining what makes your sinuses worse at night, a good place to begin is to ask yourself which sinus-related issues or household circumstances you go through.
It is worth noting, however, that your sinus problems may worsen at night since youre less distracted and paying more attention to how you feel.
While this might be true to a certain extent, paying attention doesnt lead to sinus symptoms. Sinus issues create sinus symptoms. Here are some potential factors to consider:
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What To Do For Sinus Pressure And Pain At Home
Here are the top 10 at-hometreatments to help ease your sinus pain and inflammation to get rid of your sinus infection faster.
Avoidance Of Things That May Make Your Symptoms Worse
If you have chronic sinusitis and you are a smoker, you may find that if you stop smoking your symptoms improve. This may especially be the case if you have allergies as well. You should also practise good dental hygiene if you are prone to chronic sinusitis, as it can be caused by a dental infection.
Scuba divers with nasal or sinus problems should be aware of the possible serious consequences of sinus barotrauma. Recurrent barotrauma to sinuses can cause knock-on complications, such as serious infection and damage to nerves in the face and eye. If you have had chronic sinusitis and wish to dive, you should seek advice from your doctor.
Flying in an aeroplane may cause an increase in pain if there is blockage of the sinus drainage channel. With the change in air pressure in an aeroplane, the pressure does not equalise between the sinus and outside, due to the blockage. Pain tends to be worse when the aeroplane is descending to land.
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Treatment And Medication Options For Sinus Infection
Up to 70 percent of people with acute sinusitis recover without prescribed medications, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology .
Treatment for acute sinus infections focus on relieving symptoms, such as by:
- Drinking lots of fluids and getting plenty of rest
- Flushing out the sinuses with a saline nasal wash like a Neti Pot or a saline nasal spray
- Inhaling steam several times a day
- Using a humidifier
- Resting a warmed, moist washcloth or a warm compress over your nose and cheeks
When To See A Doctor For Sinus Issues
If your symptoms persist more than one to two weeks, you should consult with your physician.
Youll want to check with your doctor even sooner if you have a severe case of a sinus infection including a high fever, swelling around the eyes, and red and inflamed skin, among other symptoms, Del Signore says.
In this case, or if your symptoms do not clear up within two weeks, your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic.
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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.
An Ent For Chronic Sinusitis
Along with the symptoms mentioned above, fatigue, sleeplessness, and drainage can wear you down when sinusitis becomes chronic.
Chronic or recurrent sinus infections may require an ear nose and throat specialist called an Otolaryngologist. An ENT specialist is trained in medical and surgical treatment of adults and children concerned with diseases of the ear, nose, and throat.
In addition to chronic sinusitis an ENT treats these conditions among others:
- Balance disorders
- Diseases of the outer and inner ear
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How Do I Treat Chronic Sinusitis
Chronic sinusitis is much more difficult to treat than acute bacterial sinusitis. You may have been sick for months and may have received several courses of antibiotics. Over time, the bacteria become immune to the antibiotics, and you may become allergic to certain antibiotics. Steroids tend to be the most helpful medicine for chronic sinusitis, as they reduce the swelling that causes nasal and sinus blockage. Despite aggressive medical management, many patients with chronic sinusitis require surgical cleaning of their sinuses. New techniques such as balloon sinus dilation make it possible to wash out the sinuses under local anesthesia in the office. Most patients have very little pain and return to work the day after balloon dilation.
Signs You Should Visit An Ear Nose And Throat Doctor
An ENT specialist will help you with all sorts of problems relating to your ear, nose and throat. However, when do you know that its time to go and see one? There are plenty of symptoms and signs to be on the lookout for, and here are five pretty clear indicators that its time to see an ENT doctor:
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Causes And Risk Factors Of Sinus Infection
The terms “sinus infection” and “sinusitis” are often used interchangeably, but sinusitis simply refers to the inflammation of the sinuses, with or without an infection. The medical term for sinusitis is rhinosinusitis because the illness affects the mucous membranes in both the sinuses and nose.
Sinus infections ultimately develop because of sinus and nasal blockages that result in sinus inflammation. There are several underlying causes of sinus blockage, including various environmental, anatomical, and genetic factors. But the most common cause of the blockage is inflammation or swelling of the nasal passages because of the common cold or allergies.
In healthy people, mucosal secretions are always moving and draining into the nasal cavity. But
when blockage occurs, mucus fails to drain properly, increases in thickness, and fills the sinus spaces.
The cilia also slow down their sweeping and cleaning, making it even harder for mucus to drain.
When the mucus is unable to drain, it becomes the perfect medium for microbes to grow out of control and cause an infection.
Final Thoughts: Treating A Deviated Septum
Did you know that your nose droops as you age, which can make problems with your deviated septum more obvious? There may have been no problems before, but once you start getting older, the drooping that occurs can make you have issues that are more pronounced.
There are surgical interventions that can fix this defect, and most take just about an hour or so to complete. The good news is that a simple procedure can fix all these problems without the need for chronic medications and unbearable symptoms. Do you have many of these symptoms of the list? It could be that you have an underlying deviated septum that is to blame.
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This Is When To See A Doctor For A Sinus Infection
Also known as sinusitis, sinus infections are common as Autumn closes in. In the United States of America, there are about 28.9 million adults who experienced sinusitis. Although they are common, most people dont know when to see a doctor for a sinus infection.
Here is a guide to answer when to see a doctor. Read on to learn more about sinus infections, symptoms, and possible treatments.
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 Do Sinus Infections Start
Sinusitis occurs when the lining of the sinus or nasal cavity becomes inflamed. What can start as inflammation in your sinuses from a respiratory infection, allergies or environmental pollutants can spark a sinus infection when the lining of the sinuses becomes inflamed and swollen, causing mucus to become trapped and germs to grow.
“Once you have a cold or upper respiratory tract infection, that virus can then settle into the sinuses and cause inflammation as well,” said Dr. Mas Takashima, an otolaryngologist and chair of Houston Methodist ENT Specialists. “About 95% of sinusitis is caused by a virus making it much more common than bacterial sinusitis. Viral sinusitis is also much more infectious as well.”
Certain conditions, such as having allergies, asthma or a respiratory infection, can make people more susceptible to getting chronic sinus infections, and it is important that these patients be evaluated to address the cause and not just the sinusitis symptoms.
“There are many causes of chronic sinusitis. “Patients with a weakened immune system are more prone to getting recurrent acute sinusitis,” explains Dr. Takashima. “Sometimes, however, the issue may be anatomy, such as a deviated septum , scarring from previous sinus surgery, or nasal polyps, which result from chronic inflammation in the nose. Once the polyps get to a certain size, they rarely regress on their own and they narrow the sinus drainage pathways.”
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.
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Clean Up Your Air Quality
Reducing your risk of environmental allergens is critical for improving your health if you have nasal congestion. Make sure that your house is mold-free. If there is mold in your house, make sure that you get professional mold remediation or move to a mold-free home. Vacuum your home regularly. Invest in a high-quality air purifier to lower your exposure to dust, pollen, and other allergens in the air.
A 2018 study on 46 individuals with self-reported allergies has found that using air filtration made a statistically significant difference in nasal allergy symptoms from circulating indoor allergens. I personally use and highly recommend EnviroKlenz for air-purification. Put plenty of natural plants in your home to increase fresh oxygen around you. Avoid using conventional toxic cleaning, beauty, and body products, and replace them with natural, organic, and DIY alternatives .