Sinus & Allergy

Need To Know: The Signs of a Sinus Infection

written by Becki Andrus
Signs of a Sinus Infection

Do you have a stuffy nose that just won’t go away? If the congestion is lingering, then there is a chance that you might be suffering from a sinus infection. In the beginning, the symptoms often seem like a normal head cold. But as the infection progresses, the symptoms linger and intensify. The best solution is to talk to an experienced doctor about treatment options if you suspect that you have a sinus infection.

What Causes Sinus Infections?

The face contains air-filled pockets, known as the sinuses. You have multiple sinus cavities: located in the nasal area, below your eyes, and in the forehead above the eyes. When these pockets fill with fluid, it creates the perfect environment for germs to grow.

When the sinuses are inflamed and swollen, then it affects the way mucus drains through the sinus cavities. Some people experience acute sinusitis, which is a one-time occurrence of a sinus infection (usually after a head cold). Other people experience recurring sinus infections, often known as chronic sinusitis.

Sinus infections can be caused by either a bacterial growth or a viral infection. Talking to an experienced ear, nose, throat doctor is the most effective way to determine the cause of your sinus infection. Accurate diagnosis is essential to ensure that your treatment plan designed to match your condition.

Factors That Increase Your Risk of a Sinus Infection

Often, certain risk factors are present, which increases the possibilities of the development of a sinus infection. These risk factors include:

· Seasonal allergies

· Having a head cold

· Immunity weakness due to the use of immune-suppressant medications

· Exposure to cigarette smoke

· Tooth infections

· A deviated septum

· Structural issues within the sinuses, such as nasal polyps

Just because you have one or more of these risk factors, it doesn’t mean that you will experience sinus infections. But it is good to be aware of the risk factors so you can be proactive in reducing the likelihood of a sinus infection in the future.

Sinus Infection Symptoms

When a sinus infection occurs, it means that your sinus cavities are swollen, infected, and inflamed. These are the most common symptoms of a sinus infection:

· Stuffy nose

· Runny nose

· Nasal discharge that is yellow or green in color

· Headache

· Post-nasal drip

· Bad Breath

· Coughing

· Tooth pain

· Hoarse voice

· Pressure or pain in the facial area

· Facial pain intensifies when leaning over

· Ear pressure

· Difficulty breathing through the nose

· Sore throat

· Throat irritation

· Fever

· Difficulty sleeping due to coughing or head pressure

When to See an Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor

Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between a common head cold and a sinus infection. Or you might develop a cold in the beginning, and then a sinus infection occurs as a secondary infection. In the early stages of illness, most people choose at-home remedies to treat the symptoms of a cold.

If the symptoms worsen, then it is important that you talk to a local Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Here are a few indications that you should seek medical care:

· Severe pain in the face

· Symptoms that persist for more than 10 days

· Symptoms improve, then worsen again

· A severe headache that doesn’t go away

· A fever for more than 3 or 4 days

· Any other symptoms that are unusual or concerning

While general doctors can assist with sinus infection treatment, it is a good idea to talk to an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist if you have recurring sinus infections.

Sinus Infection Treatments: At-Home and Doctor Prescribed

In the early stages of a sinus infection, you might try a few at-home remedies to reduce the discomfort and support your body in the healing process. For example, sinus pressure can be relieved by putting a warm compress (such as a warm washcloth) over the forehead and nose.

Try using over-the-counter treatments, such as a saline nasal spray or a decongestant medication. It can be helpful to take a long, hot shower so you can breathe in the steam. Some people like to use nasal irrigation to rinse out the sinuses. It can also be helpful to use a pain-reliever medication, such as acetaminophen.

In most cases, sinus infections can get better on their own without prescription medications. If these at-home remedies don’t alleviate your discomfort within a few days, then it might be time to see a doctor. Medical treatments can be used to clear up the infection. For example, antibiotics might be recommended if it’s a bacterial infection.

Keep in mind that complications can occur if an infection is left untreated. These complications are rare, but it’s a good idea to seek medical help if you notice that the symptoms are progressing.

Sinus Infection Prevention

Most people will experience a sinus infection at some point in their life. But there are a few things that can be done to reduce the risk of getting a sinus infection. Here are a few important prevention steps that will decrease the possibility of the development of an infection:

· Good hygiene: wash your hands frequently to minimize the risk of a head cold and other respiratory illnesses

· Stay up-to-date on your annual flu shot

· Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke

· Use a humidifier to increase air moisture at home

· Minimize contact with other people who have respiratory infections

· Be proactive with allergy management (if you have seasonal allergies)

Schedule an Appointment with a Local ENT

If you have chronic sinus infections or serious acute symptoms, don’t delay a conversation with an experienced ENT in the Frisco area. Our staff at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat, is here to assist with diagnosis and treatment. We are happy to answer your questions and identify the optimal treatment plan based on your individual needs.

At Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat, we have two local offices for your convenience: in Frisco and Plano, TX. Call us right away to schedule a consultation to learn more about sinus infection treatment options: (972) 596-4005

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