How To Solve A Sinus Infection That Wont Go Away
Sinus infection is a common problem that can affect any age group. It represents the fifth most common condition that requires an antibiotic prescription.
Sinuses are four paired air-filled spaces in your skull and face bones surrounding your nose. Their main function is to produce mucus that forms a layer inside the sinuses to humidify inhaled air and keep the interior of your nose moisturized. This mucus layer can trap dust particles, other pollutants, or bad germs and brush them out through your nose. Each sinus drains into your nose through small openings to keep these passages clear of excess mucus and the trapped particles.
However, sometimes, such as when the weather changes and you catch a cold, it can turn into a sinus infection. This causes inflammation of your sinuses, known as sinusitis. Usually, sinusitis should go away in a few days or a week. But sometimes that sinus infection can stick around for a long time.
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Is Fresh Air Good For Sinus Infection
When the air you breathe is too dry, the mucus in your nose and sinuses won’t flow properly and your sinuses won’t drain as well as they should. Congestion can then lead to sinus pain and sinusitis. Sinusitis experts agree that adding humidity to the air with a humidifier is generally good for sinus health.
What Your Doctor Needs To Know
To find out if youâve got more than a bad cold, you need to learn the cause of your symptoms. Your doctor can help you figure out whether you have sinusitis or something else.
Tell your doctor how long youâve had sinus symptoms, and whether theyâve gotten worse or stayed the same. If youâve had them for less than 10 days and theyâre not getting worse, you probably have a viral infection. It will likely go away on its own.
Over-the-counter treatments like saline sprays, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen may help ease symptoms along the way. might reduce the swelling and inflammation temporarily. If you use them, read the directions carefully and only use as directed. Using nasal decongestant sprays for more than a few days could make the congestion worse.
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Will My Sinus Infection Clear Up On Its Own
The first few weeks of the common cold arent fun, but the acute sinusitis that can pop up afterwards doesnt help either. Sinus congestion and the common cold, unfortunately, go hand in hand. Acute sinusitis frequently is caused by the common cold, but also can be caused by allergies and bacterial and fungal infections.
Sinus infections are caused when the cavities around your nasal passages become inflamed and swollen, which eventually interferes with drainage and causes mucus to build up. This tends to get annoying, because it makes breathing through the nose difficult. It also affects the area around your eyes and face, and can cause a throbbing headache.
When a sinus infection hits, its always worse than what you remembered from the last time you had one. This may give you the idea that you need antibiotics, but most clear up without them. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses and arent recommended within the first week of developing a cold. About 70 percent of sinus infections go away within two weeks without antibiotics.
Consider these other forms of treatments instead of antibiotics:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers. Aspirins, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve temporary pain.
- Saline nasal spray. This is used to spray into your nose several times a day to rinse your nasal passages. They can help to prevent and treat inflammation.
Antibiotics only will be needed if the infection is severe, recurrent or persistent.
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Treating A Sinus Infection
Sinus infections are different from colds because they are caused by bacteria growing in blocked sinuses. Because of this, they may improve with antibiotics. Depending on your situation, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as antibiotics, or other drugs that can help relieve your pain and lessen the swelling in your sinuses.
If you feel you may have a sinus infection that is worsening, visit your urgent care clinic or primary care physician as soon as possible. You could receive treatment to help you recover faster.
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When Do You Really Need Antibiotics For That Sinus Infection
- By Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Contributor
It was February, and clinic was teeming with respiratory infections of all kinds: mostly the common cold, but also bronchitis, pneumonia, and sinus infections. The patients were coming in usually thinking that they needed antibiotics for their sinus infection, or another respiratory infection.The first patient on my schedule was a healthcare provider with sinus infection written down as her main issue.* Shed had about two weeks of nasal and sinus congestion which she blamed on a viral upper respiratory infection . Her two young kids had been sick with colds all winter, so she wasnt surprised to have these symptoms, along with endless postnasal drip and a cough.
Her congestion had improved a bit at one point, and she thought that she was finally getting better. But then, the day before her appointment, she awoke with throbbing pain between her eyes, completely blocked nasal passages, and, more concerning to her, green pus oozing from her left tear duct. She had body aches, chills, and extreme fatigue.
How Severe Are The Symptoms
Most sinus infections go away on their own without severe symptoms or complications. If a sinus infection is caused by bacteria, you may need antibiotics.
Many cases of COVID-19 may be mild or moderate. The World Health Organization estimates that
Heres what to do next whether you think that you have a sinus infection or COVID-19.
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Most Sinus Infections Dont Require Antibiotics
Ah, . The New England Journal of Medicine published a clinical practice review of acute sinus infections in adults, that is, sinus infections of up to four weeks. The need for an updated review was likely spurred by the disconcerting fact that while the vast majority of acute sinus infections will improve or even clear on their own without antibiotics within one to two weeks, most end up being treated with antibiotics.
It is this discrepancy that has clinical researchers and public health folks jumping up and down in alarm, because more unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics mean more side effects and higher bacterial resistance rates. But on the other hand, while 85% of sinus infections improve or clear on their own, theres the 15% that do not. Potential complications are rare, but serious, and include brain infections, even abscesses.
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Antibiotics And Sinus Infections
When a sinus infection hits, it seems worse than what you remembered from the last time you had one. This may give you the idea that you need antibiotics, but most clear up without them. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses and aren’t recommended within the first week of developing a cold. About 70% of sinus infections go away within two weeks without antibiotics.
Consider these other forms of treatments instead of antibiotics:
- These medications are available for over-the-counter purchase. Be careful to only take these medications for a few days at most, as they can cause the return of more severe congestions.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers Aspirins, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve temporary pain.
- Saline nasal spray This is used to spray into your nose several times a day to rinse your nasal passages. It can help to prevent and treat inflammation.
Antibiotics only will be needed if the infection is severe, recurrent or persistent.
The likelihood of bacterial infection increases when:
- Symptoms last seven days or more, particularly when symptoms initially improve and then worsen.
- Mucus is thick and yellow or green in color.
- There is facial or sinus tenderness, particularly if it’s worse on one side of the face.
- Pain is present in the upper teeth and is worse on one side of the face.
If the infection becomes severe, recurrent or persistent, contact your provider.
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Ways To Recognize Serious Signs Of Sinus Infections
The length of the infection is an important determinant of the seriousness of the infection.
I usually consider most infections less than 3 weeks to be viral or inflammation related to congestion. At this point, the best treatment is usually medications that decrease the congestion and inflammation. This in turn will alleviate the symptoms and ultimately cure the illness.
When the illness continues beyond 3 weeks, bacterial infection can begin to develop. Though antibiotics can be considered at this point, other treatments may still be the best answer if they have not yet been given a try.
#2: Mucous Color
I will dispel a myth right here and now. Yellowish/greenish mucous does not necessarily mean the infection is bacterial.
Viruses can cause the same color mucous. The reason for the mucous is generally not the actual bacteria or virus, but the bodys immune response to the intruder.
So dont worry just because you see a colored mucous when you blow your nose. This will also improve as the infection abates.
#3: Sinus Pain
Sinus pain can occur anytime throughout a sinus infection. This is normal and means there is inflammation in the sinuses, as we discussed previously.
However, severe pain, redness over the skin, hardened skin over the sinuses, or even a severe headache are not generally normal and can indicate a bacterial infection.
A fever can be caused by both viruses and bacteria. So how do you differentiate between the two?
Whats A Sinus Infection Again
So, a sinus infection is technically called sinusitis, and its basically the term for when your sinuses are inflamed, according to the US National Library of Medicine . As for what those sinuses are, exactly, theyre pockets in the face next to the nose that are typically full of air, Philip Chen, MD, otolaryngologist with UT Health San Antonio, tells Health.These pockets have a lining of mucosa that helps keep the sinus healthy, which is what becomes inflamed when the sinuses are infected.
Another type of sinus infection, rhinosinusitis, occurs when the lining of the sinus cavities ar swollen, along with the lining of the nasal cavity, says Dr. Chen.
As for what causes a sinus infection, its typically a condition that blocks the sinuses, like a viral upper respiratory tract infection , or allergies, Landon Duyka, MD, otolaryngologist at Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, tells ?Health. The blockage ultimately allows for an infection to develop and progress within the sinuses.
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Can You Have A Sinus Infection Without A Fever
If you have signs of a sinus infection but no fever, you may be wondering, Can you even have a sinus infection without a fever? The simple answer to this question is yes you can have a sinus infection without a fever.
However, a fever or lack of fever can sometimes help you determine whether or not you have a cold, viral sinus infection, or bacterial sinus infection. Lets take a few minutes to cover the difference between bacterial and viral infections and then discuss sinus infection symptoms and treatment options.
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How Long Do Symptoms Last
Typically, a sinus infection clears up within 2 to 3 weeks. COVID-19 lasts for about a week or two depending on its severity and your overall health.
A 2020 study surveyed 270 outpatients with COVID-19. Among them, 175 people reported returning to their usual level of health about 7 days after a positive COVID-19 test.
Some symptoms like cough and loss of smell or taste may linger temporarily after COVID-19. Some people may experience long-haul COVID-19, a group of symptoms that persist in the weeks and months following an infection.
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Acute Vs Chronic Sinusitis
The vast majority of people who come down with a case of sinusitis will experience the illness as a result of complications from a cold, or perhaps a particularly bad bout of allergies. These cases are said to be acute in nature. That said, many people suffer from regular occurance of sinus infections, often due to structural abnormalities such as deviated septum.
While the vast majority of cases of acute sinusitis are caused by viruses, chronic sinusitis is often due to inflammation and/or structural abnormalitiessurgery may be required for symptomatic relief in severe cases.
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.
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What Are The Different Types Of Sinus Infections
Sinusitis is categorized based on how long the condition lasts as well as its frequency:
- Acute sinusitis usually lasts a few weeks, but less than a month. There is a subcategory of acute sinusitis, called recurrent acute sinusitis, which occurs when someone gets four or more sinus infections in a year, with symptoms resolving after each one.
- Subacute sinusitis lasts one to three months.
- Chronic sinusitis lasts three months or more.
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What Your Urgent Care Doctor Can Do For A Sinus Infection
When you visit your urgent care doctor with sinus infection symptoms, your doctor will conduct a physical exam. Theyll especially want to look at your ears, nose, and throat, and theyll be looking for signs of inflammation and infection.
Your urgent care doctor may do blood work to determine whether your sinus infection is caused by bacteria or a virus. If your sinus infection is bacterial, your urgent care doctor will prescribe antibiotics. If your sinus infection is viral, your doctor will recommend some supportive treatments for you to try at home. Viral sinus infections wont respond to antibiotic treatment.
If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend a steroid injection to help you feel better.
How Long Should It Take For A Bad Sinus Infection To Go Away
Before we delve into what to do when your sinusitis wont go away, lets figure out whether you have a sinus infection in the first place. The symptoms shared between the common cold, chronic sinusitis, and chronic allergies, are similar making it rather difficult to deduce which culprit is causing your sinus issues.
One major differentiator, however, is time. A cold should go away within a week. If your cold lasts longer than 7-10 days, its likely that your cold has either turned into a bacterial sinus infection, or you actually had a sinus infection from the very beginning. Whatever the case, if your symptoms persist for more than a week, its best to see a doctor.
Once your doctor determines treatment, your sinus infection symptoms should begin to subside within a few days.
Common Causes Of Sinus Infection
You can easily get sinus infections, depending on your environment. If you stay in a house filled with mold and dust, you can get sinus infections more often than other people. You also get a higher chance of developing the infection when you have a cold or allergy.
Other people with the following also have a higher risk of getting sinus infections:
- Weak immune system
- Often smokes or drinks
People with other medical conditions, such as HIV, also risk getting a sinus infection. Try to take note of your allergies and medical conditions as not to get complications. You could get complications like vision problems and skin infection.
Is There A Right Way To Blow Your Nose
If you have a stuffy nose, trying to force yourself to blow your nose could make it worse. The best thing to do is to blow one side of your nose at a time gently into a tissue. You might want to first use some type of nasal rinse to loosen any material in your nose before blowing. Make sure you dispose of the tissue and then clean your hands with soap and water or an antimicrobial sanitizer.
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