Why Do My Sinuses Keep Getting Infected
Here comes the sneezing, runny nose, and headaches..again. You can tell that its probably a sinus infection by that inflamed clogged feeling behind your nose.
Repeated sinus infections can be a considerable problem for people that cope with them, resulting in miserable days in bed . As unpleasant as a sinus infection is, it cant always be treated with antibiotics.
Why Do People Have Chronic Sinusitis
Sinus infections can start with a virus, a fungus, or bacteria, or it can develop from. Antibiotics will only treat a bacterial infection and this is one reason why sinus infections are difficult to treat.
That leaves your immune system to do the heavy lifting. Thats usually not an issue. But when sinus infections are presented with favorable conditions, symptoms can persist.
In most cases, sinus infections prosper when theres an excess of fluid accumulation in your sinuses. Here are a few reasons why sinus infections may be chronic:
Nasal Polyps: Normally, these little growths in your nasal canal arent a problem. But sometimes, drainage of your sinuses can be blocked by nasal polyps. This excess fluid can cause a sinus infection.
In-home heating: Sinus infections are more widespread during winter. In part, thats because your in-home heating system has a tendency to dry out your air. That dryness can decrease the mucus membranes that normally are the first line of defense against infection.
Deviated nasal septum: If your nasal septum is deviated, you might have trouble thoroughly draining your sinuses. Chronic, significant sinus infections can be the result of this trapped fluid.
Other conditions: There are a number of other conditions which might result in chronic sinus infections, like issues with the immune system, Cystic fibrosis, and others.
What Causes A Sinus Infection
In most cases, acute sinusitis is caused by a bacterial or viral infection, which means it usually develops after youve had a cold or the flu. Its possible for an acute sinus infection to develop into a chronic infection over time. However, most chronic sinus infections are caused by:
- Problems with the physical structure of your sinuses such as nasal polyps, narrow sinuses, or a deviated septum
- Allergies such as hay fever that cause inflammation
Certain health conditions are also known to accompany chronic sinusitis. These include:
- Primary immune deficiency disesase
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Is It A Sinus Infection Or Cold
It can be difficult to tell the difference between a sinus infection and a cold as the symptoms can be very similar. Sinus infections often develop after a cold.
Sinusitis tends to last longer than a cold. Cold symptoms tend to get steadily worse, peaking at 3â5 days, then gradually get better. Sinus infections may last 10 days or more.
Some symptoms are more likely to be caused by sinusitis than a cold, including:
- swelling of the tissue in the nose
- green discharge from the nose
- a swollen or tender face
Unlike a cold, sinusitis can become chronic, which means it lasts longer than eight weeks. Chronic sinusitis causes swelling and irritation in the sinuses and usually develops after a person has had acute sinusitis. Sometimes the symptoms go away and then come back again.
Ongoing sinus symptoms â even if they get better and then come back â may indicate chronic sinusitis.
Sinus infections often go away on their own without medical treatment. There are, however, some things a person can do at home to relieve the bothersome symptoms.
To treat sinusitis symptoms with home remedies , try:
Avoid using decongestants on a long-term basis without talking to a doctor first because they can make congestion worse if used for too long.
- symptoms last longer than 10 days with no improvement
- fever lasts longer than 3-4 days
- the pain is very intense
- a person with a suspected sinus infection has a drugs that suppress the immune system, or organ failure
Causes Of Sinus Congestion
- Viral Sinus Infection. Part of the common cold. A cold infects the lining of the nose. It also involves the lining of all the sinuses.
- Bacterial Sinus Infection. A problem when the sinus becomes infected with bacteria. . It starts as a viral sinus infection. Main symptoms are increased sinus pain or return of fever. The skin around the eyelids or cheeks may become red or swollen. Thick nasal secretions that last over 14 days may point to a sinus infection. This can occur in younger children.
- Allergic Sinus Reaction. Sinus congestion often occurs with nasal allergies . Sneezing, itchy nose and clear nasal discharge point to this cause.
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Untreated Sinus Infection Risks
Sinus infections often start to improve on their own after about 10 days. If your symptoms last longer without improving or if they worsen, a doctor may need to treat the underlying cause of the infection.
If a sinus infection affects a sinus cavity close to the brain, it can spread to the brain if left untreated. Though rare, an infection can also pass into the eye socket and cause vision changes or blindness. These types of infections are more common in kids.
While uncommon, a serious fungal sinus infection left untreated may pass into the bones.
Make an appointment with a doctor if you have severe symptoms, or if the following symptoms last longer than 10 days or keep coming back:
Because the cause of your sinus infection can affect your treatment options, its important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if youre looking for a doctor.
If you believe you have chronic or recurring sinusitis, consider asking for a referral to an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear, nose, and throat specialist. You may need imaging and other tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
An ENT specialist can take a culture of nose drainage to better understand the cause of an infection. The ENT specialist can also examine the sinuses more closely and look for any problem in the structure of the nasal passages that could lead to chronic sinus problems.
Conditions causing your chronic infections may include:
Throat Irritation And Cough
As discharge from your sinuses drains down the back of your throat, it can cause irritation, especially over a long period of time. This can lead to a persistent and annoying cough, which can be worse when lying down to sleep or first thing in the morning after getting up from bed.
It can also make sleeping difficult. Sleeping upright or with your head elevated can help reduce the frequency and intensity of your coughing.
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Sore Throat And Hoarse Voice
Postnasal drip can leave you with a raw and aching throat. Although it may start as an annoying tickle, it can get worse.
If your infection lasts for a few weeks or more, mucus can irritate and inflame your throat as it drips, resulting in a painful sore throat and hoarse voice. Frequent coughing and throat clearing can make a hoarse voice worse.
Color Of Nasal Discharge With Colds
- The nasal discharge changes color during different stages of a cold. This is normal.
- It starts as a clear discharge and later becomes cloudy.
- Sometimes it becomes yellow or green colored for a few days. This is still normal.
- Colored discharge is common after sleep, with allergy medicines or with low humidity. Reason: all of these events decrease the amount of normal nasal secretions.
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Contact Doctor During Office Hours
- Sinus pain lasts more than 24 hours, after using nasal washes
- Thick yellow or green pus draining from nose and not improved by nasal washes. Exception: yellow or green tinged secretions are normal.
- Sinus congestion and fullness lasts more than 14 days
- Nasal discharge lasts more than 2 weeks
- You have other questions or concerns
Why Sinusitis Keeps Coming Back
Sinus infections can be incredibly painful, and they can become debilitating if when they are not diagnosed and treated properly. The relief of a cured sinus infection quickly evaporates when the telltale symptoms of an infection return and patients are left wondering why sinusitis wont stay away. In addition to causing discomfort and/or missed days of work, untreated and recurrent sinus infections can lead to more permanent damage in the sinus cavities and nasal passages.
While the very occasional, acute sinus infection is relatively normal, recurrent or chronic sinus infections are not. If a sinus infection returns again after youve finished a round of antibiotics and/or have followed your physicians at-home treatment instructions to the letter, please schedule another appointment ASAP.
You may need a referral to an ENT specialist to determine why the sinus infection continues to come back, and whether anatomical corrections may be necessary to fix the problem once and for all.
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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.
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
If you have a high temperature or you do not feel well enough to do your normal activities, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you feel better.
You do not need to use all of the solution, but make a fresh solution each time you clean your nose.
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Types Of Sinus Infections: Chronic Vs Acute
There are four types of sinus infections. These classifications depend on the length and frequency of the infection:
- Acute sinusitis.This type of sinus infection lasts only for a short time, defined by the American Academy of Otolaryngology as less than 4 weeks. This short-term infection is usually part of a cold or other respiratory illness. It may also be caused by a bacterial infection .
- Subacute sinusitis. A subacute sinus infection lasts between 4 and 12 weeks .
- Recurrent acute sinusitis. An acute sinus infection is considered recurrent if the infection returns four or more times within a year, with each infection lasting 7 days or more.
- Chronic sinusitis.Chronic sinus infections last for more than 12 weeks or continue to recur.
Many sinus infection symptoms are common in both acute and chronic forms. Seeing a doctor is the best way to learn if you have an infection, find the cause, and get treatment.
For cases of acute bacterial sinus infections, these symptoms last at least 10 days without improving, or they worsen within 10 days after seeming to improve. In this case, its important to talk with a doctor, such as a general practitioner or an ear, nose, and throat doctor , to get a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Learn more about the symptoms of a sinus infection below.
What Can I Do To Find Relief From A Sinus Infection
- Place a warm compress over your face to help relieve pressure.
- Breathe in steam by placing a towel over your head and leaning over a bowl or sink full of hot water to allow the steam to relieve congestion. WARNING: Make sure that the water is not too hot because steam can cause burns.
- Rinse the sinuses. Dr. Takashima recommends using the squeeze bottle over the neti pot for effective nasal irrigation.
- Keep the nasal passages moist by using a saline nasal spray.
- Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air.
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How Can I Prevent A Sinus Infection Naturally
The good news is that some individuals are able to get rid of their recurrent sinus infections by modifying aspects of their lifestyles. To help minimize your risk of sinus infections, you can:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Keep the inside of your nose moist with nasal saline sprays
- Keep your allergies under control with OTC or prescribed medication
- Maintain and allergen-free home
- Avoid nasal irritants such as pollution and smoke
Unfortunately, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, keeping away from allergens, and promoting healthy nasal passages may not solve the problem of how to prevent sinus infections for everyone. Some people are simply more susceptible to sinus infections, regardless of any preventative measures they may take.
However, those unable to prevent sinus infections with traditional methods can come to Sinus Solutions of South Florida for the innovative balloon sinuplasty treatment.
Rare Cases Can Turn Serious
Antibiotics also can help ward off rare but potentially dangerous complications that arise when a sinus infection spreads to the eyes or brain, Dr. Sindwani says.
Complications around the eyes are the more common of the two. These complications can cause redness, swelling around the eyes and reduced vision, and even lead to blindness in a severe form known as cavernous sinus thrombosis. Serious cases are immediately treated with IV antibiotics. Patients are usually admitted to the hospital for a CT scan to see if fluid needs to be drained, Dr. Sindwani says.
Also in rare cases, sinus infections in the rear center of ones head can spread into the brain. This can lead to life-threatening conditions like meningitis or brain abscess, Dr. Sindwani says.
Before antibiotics, people would die from sinusitis, he says. But he emphasizes that such complications are unlikely. In most cases, the bacterial infection goes away, especially if you dont have underlying medical problems.
Its important to monitor your symptoms if you suspect a sinus infection. If the condition lingers or worsens, call your doctor.
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When Is Sinus Surgery Needed
If the thought of surgery makes you more miserable, dont worry its only needed for more chronic or complex cases. If prescription treatments dont work, your doctor will refer you to an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear, nose and throat doctor. They can try other approaches to take care of your infection, including sinus surgery. There, they can remove swollen tissue, polyps, growths, fluid or other blockages that make it difficult for your sinuses to drain and heal. Again, there are plenty of medications and treatments that doctors can use before surgery is considered.
Causes Of Respiratory Infections
You may get repeated infections because of things in your environment and lifestyle like:
- Contact with other infected people
- Pollen and other irritants
But sometimes, frequent respiratory infections arise from more serious problem. They include:
Lung disease. People with asthma, cystic fibrosis , or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are more likely to get respiratory infections. These infections can make the symptoms of these chronic conditions worse.
Asthma is one of the most common lung diseases. It affects about 334 million people all over the world. COPD is widespread as well, affecting more than 200 million people. CF is less frequent and affects about 70,000 people globally.
Structural issues. The structure of your body can make you more prone to respiratory infections. A deviated septum , nasal polyps , and other blockages in your airways can lead to sinus infections.
If you have lung cancer, a tumor can also cause a blockage that results in repeated respiratory infections.
Another problem that can lead to an infection is aspiration. This happens when you breathe in food, liquid, or vomit. The substance gets into your lungs and may cause pneumonia.
Secondary immune deficiency. This happens when your immune system is damaged by something that affects your body, like chemotherapy medications, bad burns, malnutrition, or HIV. A weakened immune system makes you more likely to get respiratory infections.
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Other Remedies For Symptom Relief
Staying hydrated can help thin mucus to ease congestion.
Drinking hot liquids such as tea and broth may help relieve your symptoms. Breathing in moist air may also help relieve the discomfort that comes with nasal congestion. Try breathing in steam from the shower, a bowl of hot water, or a mug of tea.
If your voice is hoarse, rest it by avoiding yelling, whispering, and singing.
Placing a warm compress over the inflamed area can help reduce pressure and provide relief.
damages the natural protective elements of your nose, mouth, throat, and respiratory system.
If you smoke, consider quitting. Ask a doctor if you need help or are interested in quitting. Quitting may help prevent future episodes of both acute and chronic sinusitis.
Wash your hands frequently, especially during cold and flu seasons, to keep your sinuses from becoming irritated or infected by viruses or bacteria on your hands.
Using a humidifier during the cooler, dryer months may also help prevent sinus infections.
Talk with a doctor to see if allergies are causing your sinusitis. If youre allergic to something that causes persistent sinus symptoms, you will likely need to treat your allergies to relieve your sinus infection.
You may need to seek an allergy specialist to determine the cause of the allergy. The specialist may suggest:
- avoiding the allergen
- doing allergic immunotherapy
Keeping your allergies under control can help prevent repeated episodes of sinusitis.