Sinus infections consist of inflammation in the sinuses and nasal passages. People experience a stuffy/runny nose and painful pressure around the nasal area. Sinusitis is present in over 31 million people a year in the United States and it can be highly contagious. The majority of these cases are caused by a virus. It is difficult distinguishing the difference between a sinus infection and a common cold or allergy.
1) Postnasal Drip: Mucus travels from the nose to the back of the throat and may cause a sense of congestion or pressure in the throat or mouth.
2) Sinus Pain/Pressure: Fluid builds and gets trapped in the sinus cavities, which causes great discomfort. Pain may be experienced in areas surrounding the sinuses such as around the eyes, cheeks and nose.
3) Congestion: An individual is likely to feel congested after fluid builds up in the sinus cavities. This can be due to fungal/bacterial or viral infection within the sinuses themselves. These bacteria have an environment and time to grow, hence the resulting infection.
4) Headache: This can be caused by the constant pressure and pain of sinusitis. Some people report headache pain in parts of the head other than the front.
5) Cough: Mucus and fluid may gather in the throat, causing discomfort and irritation in the area. This itch and full-feeling can lead to coughing in an attempt to clear it up.
6) Fever: This happens because the body is actively fighting against an infection. It is a defense mechanism and may accompany other symptoms like muscle aches, chills, and exhaustion.
7) Fatigue: Throughout all of the work your body is putting in, exhaustion is expected, especially since it takes more work to breath and deal with the pain.
8) Chronic Sinus Pain: It is possible for some sinus infections to become chronic and last weeks.
9) Tooth Pain: Sinus pain can reach a level of intensity to where gums and teeth could start hurting as well.
10) Bad Breath: The mucus that develops due to sinus infections may smell unpleasant and cause bad breath.
It is common for sinus infections to fade away on their own without any need for any hospital visits or prescription medicines. It is advised to try out some home remedies:
– Antihistamine tablets for decreasing inflammation that are available at supermarkets and online stores.
– Placing a warm absorbent material on the sinus area to help with pain and pressure by loosening fluids in sinuses.
– Nasal decongestant spray to assist in clearing sinus cavities and relieve pressure. Available online and at drug stores.
-Nasal wash or sinus rinse available at drug stores and online
Visiting your doctor may be necessary when pain levels become too much to bear on your own without professional help. If the sinus infection has lasted for longer than a week with no real improvement, then a doctor visit is encouraged. You may be prescribed antibiotics depending on whether or not the infection is caused by a bacteria or virus. Antibiotics only work on bacterial infections and not ones caused by a virus.
Steroids may be prescribed if home remedies and antibiotics do not work. They may help with chronic sinusitis and work for both bacterial and viral infections. Steroids help in relieving pain and pressure, which represent most of the symptoms.
If none of the above is effective in providing relief, then a doctor may suggest surgery for the most severe cases of chronic sinusitis. A surgeon would adjust the bones to open the sinuses in an attempt to reduce pressure and possibly fix other issues present in the area. These surgeries are considered outpatient procedures and patients can be discharged the same day as the procedure.
All in all, most cases of sinus infections are cleared up within 1-2 weeks. The outlook is promising. If the infection persists for longer than 2 weeks, then it may be bacterial and antibiotics may be required to help relieve symptoms. When a sinus infection does not go away after a couple of months, then you should see an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist as soon as possible. They are highly trained in finding the root cause of the problem.