Acute Sinusitis Vs Chronic Sinusitis
Not all sinus infections progress the same way. The length and severity of your symptoms can vary. When symptoms develop and resolve quickly, within 7 10 days, this is called acute sinusitis. If symptoms last for several weeks or continue to return frequently, this is called chronic sinusitis. Acute sinusitis commonly develops from a cold, while chronic sinusitis typically stems from an underlying cause such as bacterial infection, allergies, or nasal polyps.
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.
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Dr. Nguyen is a national expert in ear, nose and throat treatment. For more than 15 years, he has been helping people seek relief from their nasal and sinus conditions. Let Houston Sinus and Allergy use the newest technology and our vast experience to customize a solution for your health needs.You can reach us by calling , or fill out the form at the top of the page tobook an assessment to start feeling better!
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What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Chronic Sinus Infection
Chronic sinusitis emerges more insidiously than acute sinusitis. At times, however, the symptoms start suddenly and may resemble that of the common cold or acute sinusitis that just wont go away.
Chronic sinusitis is most likely if you have two or more of the following symptoms:
- Nasal congestion or stuffy nose
- Mucus and pus-like discharge
- Facial pain, pressure around your eyes and nose, or fullness
- Partial or complete loss of your sense of smell
Chronic cough, sore throat, and fatigue may also be seen in a chronic sinus infection. That said, these symptoms are not required for the diagnosis of chronic rhinosinusitis.
Is A Sinus Infection Contagious
When you have a cold, the flu or COVID, the infectious particles replicate themselves in the nose. These illnesses also tend to cause coughing and sneezing, which project these germs out of your body. For this reason, you can easily spread these bugs to anyone around you.
But the infectious material in a sinus infection is behind the face, not actually in the nose. So while its possible to spread a sinus infection, they dont spread easily without very close contact.
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Turns Out It Depends On What’s Causing Your Sinusitis Here’s What To Know
Amanda Gardner is a freelance health reporter whose stories have appeared in cnn.com, health.com, cnn.com, WebMD, HealthDay, Self Magazine, the New York Daily News, Teachers & Writers Magazine, the Foreign Service Journal, AmeriQuests and others. In 2009, she served as writer-in-residence at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She is also a community artist and recipient or partner in five National Endowment for the Arts grants.
Even though sinus infections are often caused by contagious organisms like viruses and bacteria, experts are not completely agreed on whether the infections themselves can be spread.
Part of the confusion lies in the fact that sinus infections can be caused by so many different things. A sinus infection can be caused by viruses or bacteria that cause inflammation where the sinuses drain into the nose, explains Lisa Liberatore, MD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
The sinuses are a series of bony cavities in your skull designed to keep foreign particles like dust and germs out of your body. Theyre lined with mucus to trap those particles then, little hair-like projections called cilia sweep back to front to jettison the invaders from your body.
But inflammation can cause the mucus to get trapped, Dr. Liberatore says, and then germs can grow, which can lead to a sinus infection, or sinusitis.
What You Should Do
Dr. Sedaghat recommends that you treat colds symptomatically. I tell my patients do whatever makes them feel better. Pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen can help. Home remedies that can improve nasal symptoms include saltwater rinses for the nose, Dr. Sedaghat suggests. He also points out that maintaining a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids can help keep your energy levels up.
Sinus infections are treated the same way as a cold. If bacteria cause the infection, antibiotics are an option. But many bacterial sinus infections get better on their own.
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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.
Importance Of Evaluating Recurrent Respiratory Infections
Respiratory infections are sometimes considered more of a nuisance, but its very important to take these seriously and have a thorough exam if there isnt a clear explanation as to why they are occurring. Sometimes this will only require a careful history and physical examination other times a more intensive workup will be needed. Not only can repeated infections cause complications , but a delay in diagnosis is the norm rather than the exception when a cause such as immunodeficiency or lung cancer is present conditions that are most easily treated when caught early.
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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:
When Are You No Longer Contagious
Antibiotics are often used to treat bacterial infections. These medications specifically target bacterial functions and can either kill bacteria or prevent them from thriving.
Youre typically considered no longer contagious after youve been on a regimen of antibiotics for a period of time, which depends on your type of infection.
For example, youre no longer contagious with strep throat after youve been on antibiotics for 24 hours and no longer have a fever.
Additionally, youre no longer contagious with whooping cough after five full days on antibiotics. People with chlamydia should abstain from sexual activity until theyve completed seven days of antibiotic treatment.
Its very important to speak with your doctor about your infection and how long you should expect to be contagious. Knowing this information can help prevent you from infecting others while you recover.
Bacterial infections can be acquired in several different ways, depending on the type of infection. Lets explore some examples of how some bacterial illnesses are spread.
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How To Get Rid Of A Sinus Infection
Most sinus infections are viral, and as a result, have to run their course. Most of these can be easily managed by home care, which includes getting plenty of rest, drinking fluids, taking over-the-counter medication and using saline solutions to rinse the sinuses.
If you have questions about how to best manage your sinus infection or sinus infection symptoms, contact our internal medicine physicians in Cary who will be glad to assist you.
If you find that you have continual, chronic infections, you should consider allergy testing and treatment. Often, this allows us to address the underlying problem and dramatically reduce your chances of developing a sinus infection.
Steroid Or Corticosteroid Sprays
These sprays shrink swelling in the nasal passages. Some steroid sprays are available over the counter. Others require a prescription from a doctor.
In some people, steroid sprays can slightly improve congestion but are not effective for everyone. Steroid sprays can also cause side effects, such as headaches and nosebleeds.
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How The Sinus Infection Spreads To The Brain
Although there are various barriers that protect the brain from various pathogens, sometimes bacteria can pass through. The reason is that the space between the sinuses and the brain is very less making it easy for the pathogens to spread. If the infection spreads and infects the brain, it can lead to swelling, seizures, vomiting and abnormal mental health.
Hence, for people looking for the answer to the question can sinusitis lead to brain infection- YES, it can. But remember, only in rare instances this occurs. The likelihood of a patient dying from this condition is very low.
What Can I Take For A Sinus Infection
For most people,
- use a salt solution to clear out your nose
- apply a warm pack to the face to help relieve pain and decongest your sinuses
A doctor may advise taking painkillers, such as paracetamol, or another medication, like a nasal spray, to help relieve your symptoms. Speak to a pharmacist or doctor for further guidance before taking any medication.
You should also see a doctor if your sinus infection persists or starts to get worse despite taking these steps. They may recommend steroid nasal sprays or solutions to help with the swelling in your sinuses.
They may prescribe antihistamines if your symptoms are caused by an allergy or antibiotics if they suspect you have a sinus infection caused by bacteria.
But Is It Still A Cold Flu Allergies Or Even Covid
Sinus infections do share symptoms with colds, the flu and COVID-19. The key thing to remember about sinusitis is that it usually doesnt happen without something taking place first. A sinus infection is caused by inflammation that plugs up your sinuses and causes a backup of fluid the kind of situation that can only really happen as the result of a cold, allergies or other similar condition.
So, if you do find yourself having symptoms of sinusitis but havent been sick with anything else recently, its worth it to see if youre tracking with other signs of a cold or the flu. You should also take a quick inventory to see if you have any early symptoms of COVID-19. If so, get tested and get treatment as soon as possible. With early detection, you can get the medications necessary to have the best chances of getting better faster.
If youve been sneezing with a stuffy or runny nose along with irritated, watery eyes and itchy ears all without a fever you might be dealing with seasonal allergies. If that sounds more like what you have, especially if theyre symptoms that only happen during certain times of the year, check in with your primary care doctor. They can help confirm if youre dealing with allergies, prescribe medications and connect you with an allergist.
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Visit Your Local Allen Park Sinus Specialists Today
If you have been experiencing a sinus infection that has lasted over ten days, visit our Allen Park or Southfield, Michigan offices. Our sinus specialists can help you with your sinusitis with treatments like balloon surgery, sinus drops, or nasal steroids. Our team is here for you with whatever you need, so anytime to ask us a question or to make an appointment.
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Diagnosing A Sinus Infection
Since you cant tell if an infection is viral or bacterial just from looking at the symptoms, your surgeon will most likely run a few tests to diagnose the problem before recommending treatment. Diagnosing the infection can involve imaging to examine the sinuses and a mucus culture. Taking a sample of mucus from the nose or sinuses will help your surgeon determine if a bacteria is to blame and, if so, what type of bacteria is responsible. Knowing the type of bacteria thats causing your infection allows your surgeon to prescribe the type of antibiotic that would be most effective in treating it.
When Should You See A Doctor About Your Sinus Infection
Most sinus infections stay viral and resolve on their own. But if home remedies arent helping, if your drainage turns yellow or green, or if your sinus infection sticks around for more than a week or 10 days, it might be time to give your ENT doctor a call.
Still have more questions about whether your sinus infection is contagious? Not sure if youre dealing with a viral or bacterial infection? Contact ENT Associates of Lubbock today, and we can help you figure out your next steps!
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Are Sinus Infections Contagious
Dr. Menachof, MD, has specialized in conditions around the head, throat, ear, nose, neck and face for over 20 years, and was the first to bring sublingual allergy drops to Colorado in 2005. He has been recognized as a Fellow by multiple academies, named one of Americas Top Facial Plastic Surgeons continually since 2003 and is featured in multiple national publications.
Though sinus infections arent contagious, the underlying cause of the infection for example, a virus like the common cold is often contagious. If youre dealing with a sinus infection that just wont go away, our specialists at Advanced ENT & Allergy Center will discover the root cause of your symptoms and help you find lasting relief.
Don’t Fly If You Can Avoid It
If you do it when you’ve got sinusitis, you raise your chances of ear pain and other complications. But if you really need to take a flight, yawn and swallow when the plane is on the way up after takeoff or heads back down before landing. That will help keep the tubes from your throat to your ears clear. You can also try this: pinch your nostrils, close your mouth, and gently blow your nose.
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When Should You See A Doctor For Sinusitis
After two days of taking care of your symptoms at home, you should start seeing some improvement. If you dont feel like things are getting better, its time to see your primary care doctor, use an online clinic or head into urgent care. You should see someone sooner if:
- Youre experiencing severe pain in the upper part of your face or your teeth
- You have facial pain from the bridge of your nose to your lower eyelid
- Over-the-counter medicines arent providing relief for your headaches
- You have a fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Your normally clear, thin mucus is starting to turn thick and yellow or green
Taking care of sinus infections early can help keep them from turning into chronic infections, which take longer to treat.
If you thought you were in the clear after an illness but are still experiencing symptoms, you should make an appointment especially if youve had cold symptoms for more than 10 days or mild face pain for more than a month.
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
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