Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection:
- Green or yellow nasal mucus
- Cold symptoms last longer than 10 days
- Headache and/or sinus pressure
- Pain in the ears or teeth
- Worsening congestion
In the first few days, you might not be able to tell if your child has a head cold or a sinus infection. But pay attention to whether the child is getting better or if things progress so you know when to contact an ENT.
Common Colds And Sinus Infections
A viral infection associated with the common cold is the most common cause of sinus infections .
This virus may jump to other people, causing a cold that may also develop into viral sinusitis.
In only 0.5 to 2 percent of cases do people develop bacterial sinusitis , which is typically a complication of viral sinusitis. Bacterial sinusitis is not contagious.
In rare cases, fungi can cause a sinus infection, particularly if a person has a fungal allergy. But fungal sinusitis generally does not affect people with healthy immune systems.
Causes And Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection
Sinus inflammation, also known as sinusitis, is a condition where the nasal passageway becomes inflamed due to an infection or allergies. There are two different types of sinus infections: acute sinus infection and a chronic sinus infection. Acute sinus inflammation can be caused by another condition or infection, such as the common cold or allergies. A chronic sinus infection has a much more complicated diagnosis and almost always requires medical assistance to keep under control.
The two leading causes of an acute infection are either a bacterial infection or a viral infection. While they are similar, bacterial infections have a different treatment procedure than a viral infection, which is why it is essential to get the diagnosis right. Bacterial infections that cause sinusitis are far less frequent than a viral infection.
Depending on the severity of the sinus infection, as well as the cause and type of sinus infection, the symptoms differ. Nevertheless, several more common symptoms apply to almost every case of sinus infections, these include:
- Nasal congestion
The very first symptoms that you may experience with a sinus infection are nasal congestion and runny nose. You may need more advanced treatment that can only be prescribed by a medical professional.
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Treatment For Sinusitis From A Gp
If you have sinusitis, a GP may be able to recommend other medicines to help with your symptoms, such as:
- steroid nasal sprays or drops â to reduce the swelling in your sinuses
- antihistamines â if an allergy is causing your symptoms
- antibiotics â if a bacterial infection is causing your symptoms and youre very unwell or at risk of complications
You might need to take steroid nasal sprays or drops for a few months. They sometimes cause irritation, sore throats or nosebleeds.
A GP may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist if, for example, you:
- still have sinusitis after 3 months of treatment
- keep getting sinusitis
- only have symptoms on 1 side of your face
They may also recommend surgery in some cases.
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When To See The Doctor For Sinus Infection
Symptoms that last more than 10 days without improvement and are worsening after you started to improve is cause for concern. If you have symptoms like severe headache or facial pain and a fever that lasts longer than three to four days, you should seek immediate medical care. Your doctor will be able to help diagnose the underlying cause of your symptoms and will provide an active plan of treatment.
While sinus infections are common, they can also be life-threatening. If a sinus infection becomes severe and goes untreated, it can spread to the brain.
Risk Factors For Sinusitis
The main risk factor for a sinus infection is having a cold or hay fever, which leads to inflammation and blockage in the sinuses.
Risk for sinusitis is also higher in those with a deviated septum or narrow sinus structure, which allows fluid to more easily get trapped.
If you have a medical condition such as cystic fibrosis or weakened immune system, you also are more likely to develop a sinus infection.
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How Do Doctors Treat Sinus Infections
One the diagnosis is made, the typical treatment for sinus infection is antibiotics to clear up the bacteria causing the sinus infection. Although, the overuse of antibiotics is a cause for concern, so many doctors will prescribe these medications if your symptoms extend beyond seven to 10 days.
Your doctor may also prescribe a topical nasal corticosteroid to reverse the swelling in the sinuses. Finally, over-the-counter medications to help you cope with the daily symptoms of a sinus infection while the medications begin to do their work.
Some of the typical over-the-counter symptom relievers include:
- Antihistamines can block the inflammation that swells your sinus passages
- Nasal decongestant sprays can be used on a limited basis
- Nasal saline washes can clear out heavy mucus
- Topical nasal corticosteroids
Sinus infections can last for several weeks, or if they are chronic, for even longer. If youre feeling ill, its a good idea to reach out to your doctor for treatment. Your clinical team can diagnose, and treat your illness to make you more comfortable and help you heal.Oviedo Medical Research specializes in Phase II through IV clinical trials designed to yield the medications and vaccines that doctors depend on. If youre interested in joining us for a clinical trial, contact us.
When Does Antibiotic Resistance Occur
Antibiotic resistance occurs in a persons own body and within the community when certain drugs no longer work for a specific type of germ. This can occur when bacteria change in response to exposure to antibiotics so that the antibiotics no longer work efficiently against the bacteria.
Therefore, allergists and other specialists recommend limiting the use of antibiotics unless:
- Symptoms last over seven to 10 days
- Specific symptoms are present
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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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Causes Of Sinus Infection
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sinus infections are usually caused by a virus. Sometimes they are caused by bacteria, but those cases are less common.
Other conditions can also cause inflammation in the sinuses, including:
- Nasal allergies.
- Environmental irritants, such as dust, air pollutants or tobacco smoke.
- Fungal infections.
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Antibiotics For Sinus Infections
Antibiotics are often prescribed for sinus infections for their effectiveness in treating the symptoms. But, these medications are not effective for all cases. They only work to kill the bacteria that cause the infection. If you have a viral infection, the only effective way to treat it is to use the bodys immune response. While over-the-counter medication may make you feel better, they do not fight the bacteria that cause the infection.
The reason that antibiotics are prescribed for sinus infections is because they are the only proven way to treat them. However, overuse of these drugs is detrimental to the publics health. Despite the potential risks, most patients will insist on antibiotics. In addition, antibiotics may lead to increased drug resistance in infectious organisms. It is important to note that standard antibiotics are only effective for treating bacterial infections and not for viral ones.
There are some ways to reduce the chance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the body. Infections caused by non-bacterial factors can also be treated without antibiotics. In this case, doctors can prescribe nasal rinses and antihistamines. In some cases, however, a physician may recommend an antibiotic. As long as your condition is not life-threatening, it is likely that you can get relief from the symptoms without the use of antibiotics.
Diagnosis Of Sinus Infection
To diagnose if you have a sinus infection, your doctor will ask about your symptoms and their timeframe, and give you a physical exam.
This exam may include looking in the nose for signs of polyps, conducting a transillumination test to identify inflammation, and tapping the sinus area to detect infections.
If you have a chronic sinus infection, your doctor may conduct additional tests, including:
- Rhinoscopy or nasal endoscopy to inspect your sinuses and see if your membranes are inflamed
- Mucus cultures to determine what is specifically causing your infection
- Allergy tests to determine what allergens may be triggering your chronic or recurrent infections
- CT scan to identify sinus abnormalities, such as polyps or a deviated septum
- MRI scan to see if you have a nasal tumor or fungal infection
If you have a serious fungal sinus infection, your doctor may order a bone biopsy to see if the infection has penetrated your bones.
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What Are The Types Of Sinus Infections
Chronic sinus infection
It is a persistent process of inflammation of the sinuses and lasts more than three months.
Subacute sinus infection
Symptoms last up to three months. It commonly occurs with seasonal allergies.
Acute sinus infection
Viruses, bacteria, or fungi infect the sinus cavity and cause inflammation. Usually lasts less than 3-5 days.
Prevention Of Sinus Infection
A sinus infection is not exactly contagious. But depending on what caused a personâs inflammation, other people may also develop the illness. For example, the common cold and flu are both contagious conditions that can lead to a sinus infection.
Taking steps to reduce your risk of contracting viral infections can help prevent sinus infections. These include:
- Practice good hygiene, such as by washing your hands often and covering your mouth when you cough and sneeze
- Get the recommended vaccinations, such as the flu vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine
- Keep your distance from people who have upper respiratory infections
- Take steps to reduce your stress, which affects your immune system
- Keep your immune system healthy, such as by eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables
Other ways to reduce your risk of getting a sinus infection include:
- Dont smoke cigarettes and try to avoid inhaling secondhand smoke
- Minimize your exposure to allergens and pollutants, such as by keeping your home windows closed and using a HEPA air conditioner filter, driving with your external vents closed and air conditioner on, and avoiding activities that expose you to pollen like lawn mowing and leaf blowing
- Moisten the air at home with a humidifier and avoid dry environments
- Inhale steam or use a saline nasal spray regularly
- Drink lots of water
- Irrigate your nasal passages regularly
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When To Contact A Medical Professional
- Your symptoms last longer than 10 to 14 days or you have a cold that gets worse after 7 days.
- You have a severe headache that is not relieved by over-the-counter pain medicine.
- You have a fever.
- You still have symptoms after taking all of your antibiotics properly.
- You have any changes in your vision during a sinus infection.
A green or yellow discharge does not mean that you definitely have a sinus infection or need antibiotics.
I Keep Tabs On My Symptoms
Jonathan Overdevest, MD, assistant professor of rhinology and skull base surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York, lets time call the shots on how best to treat his sinus infections.
âWe all want to find ways to minimize the impact of our symptoms and introduce treatments that will expedite our recovery,â he says. âThe challenge lies in knowing what symptoms need higher level care and those that will improve on their own.â
Time becomes an important distinguishing factor in knowing what symptoms may require escalated treatment.
âIn general, any perceived sinus infection thatâs accompanied by severe symptoms persistently high fever, chills, changes in vision, unrelenting severe headache or outward alteration of appearance would require more urgent physical evaluation,â he says.
For less severe situations, monitor your symptoms to identify whether theyâve persisted for more than a week or were bad, then initially improved, only to get worse again over a period of seven to 10 days. If either of these scenarios holds true, youâre more likely to have an acute bacterial sinus infection that would benefit from a course of antibiotics.
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Can Sinus Infections Be Prevented
In principle, you have to avoid things that irritate the nose to prevent sinusitis, such as cigarette smoke.
In addition, it is essential to wash your hands frequently to prevent the sinuses from being infected by viruses and bacteria that are on your hands.
Some allergies can cause persistent sinus symptoms. In that case, you should go to an allergy specialist to tell you what is the proper treatment for you.
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What Is Considered A Real Fever
Your normal body temperature sits somewhere in the 97 to 99 range. If you have a temperature of 100.4 or higher, you have a low-grade fever. A temperature higher than 103 is considered high and requires immediate medical attention.
With acute sinusitis, youll typically only see a low-grade fever. Fevers are not commonly a symptom of chronic sinusitis.
To treat a low-grade fever, you can try:
- Over the counter painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Taking a warm bath
- Use cold compresses
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What Are Complications Of Sinus Infection Or Sinusitis
While serious complications do not occur frequently, it is possible for a sinus infection to cause a direct extension of infection into the brain through a sinus wall, creating a life-threatening emergency .
In addition, other adjacent structures can become infected and develop problems, such as osteomyelitis of bones in the skull and infection around the eye . Rarely, these infections may cause death. The most susceptible individuals to complications are patients with suppressed immune systems, diabetes, and relatively rarely from multiple trauma injuries that may occur in natural disasters.
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When To See A Doctor For Asinus Infection
Acute sinusitis often goes away on its own however, there are times when you should see your doctor for sinus infection treatment if self-care doesnt work. You should see a doctor if you still have sinusitis symptoms after a week or if they return more than a few times within a year. You should also see a doctor as soon as possible if the infection worsens. Signs of a worsening sinus infection include:
The Difference Between A Common Cold And A Sinus Infection
There is a large crossover between the symptoms of a cold and a sinus infection, making it confusing to self-diagnose. In both a cold and sinusitis, you might experience postnasal drip, low-grade fevers, headaches, fatigue, a cough, congestion, etc. Outside of the sinus pressure and green snot that is suggestive of sinusitis, the main difference is the recovery time.
Your cold should go away within 10 days, maximum. So, how long does a sinus infection last?
If you have a common cold that lasts longer than two weeks, you might actually have a sinus infection. Acute sinus infections can last up to four weeks. If your sinus infection lasts for more than 12 weeks without any relief, you should schedule an appointment to see your doctor.
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Pain Or Pressure In Your Sinuses
Facial pain is a common symptom of sinusitis. You have several different sinuses above and below your eyes, as well as behind your nose. Any of these air-filled cavities can hurt when you have a sinus infection.
Inflammation and swelling can cause your sinuses to ache with dull pressure. This is because inflammation may alter the typical path of mucus from the nose to the back of the throat.
You may feel pain in:
- on either side of your nose
- in your upper jaws and teeth
- between your eyes
This may lead to a headache. Headaches caused by sinus infections can occur where the sinuses are or in other places.