Sinus infections are responsible for over 12 million
doctor’s visits annually. A sinus infection (acute sinusitis) occurs when the sinus cavities fill with fluid instead of air, encouraging germs to breed which leads to an upper respiratory infection. Sinusitis can be a chronic condition or an isolated viral episode. Acute sinus infections can be bacterial by nature but are most often caused by a virus invading the nasal passages, whereas chronic sinusitis is often caused by allergens.
Sinusitis - A Real Pain
Anyone who’s been plagued with sinusitis knows how uncomfortable the condition can be. Common symptoms
of sinus infections include:
- Pain caused by inflammation of the sinus cavities
- Severe headache, especially around or behind an eye (where certain sinus cavities are located)
- Congestion or coughing
- Sore throat
- Toothache or earache
- Excess mucus or thick yellow or green discharge
- Post nasal drip (mucus dripping back down the throat causing irritation, coughing and other unpleasant symptoms)
Controlling Sinusitis Symptoms
Things you can do to help decrease your chances
of a sinusitis infection or flare up include:
- Take precautions against catching a cold which can lead to a sinus infection.
- Buy small dehumidifiers for damp areas of your house such as a basement.
- Take up carpet, and cover beds and pillows with hypoallergenic materials.
- Keep pets out of bedrooms or other rooms you spend a lot of time in.
- Eat and drink triggering food and drink such as alcohol in moderation.
- Flush out extra mucus to prevent a buildup in your nasal passages and sinus cavities (you can do this by using nasal sprays, Nettie pots or by inhaling strong peppermint steam).
- If you have chronic sinusitis or allergic rhinitis, take your prescribed nasal sprays or decongestant medications.
When To Visit The Doc
In the past there have been problems with doctors overprescribing antibiotics to patients with viral sinus infections who didn’t need them which contributes to antibiotic resistance
, most doctors are more careful and cognizant about this issue now. Just because you have a viral sinus infection doesn’t mean there is nothing that can help you, your doctor may prescribe stronger decongestants, temporary nasal sprays or in extreme cases (or for those with asthma) corticosteroids may be necessary to help the patient overcome the infection. It is also important to visit a doctor if you are experiencing sinus infection symptoms that last longer than a week or if you have recurrent sinus infections, as they may refer you to an allergist or ENT specialist to get to the root of your condition and start you on a medication plan. So consult your PCP, or one of our esteemed EMC physicians today to get some advice on your sinus situation!