Ear, Nose & Throat

Can I Go to An ENT for A Sinus Infection?

written by Becki Andrus
Can I Go to An ENT for A Sinus Infection?

Can you feel the pain and pressure building in your sinuses? Then it could be symptoms of a sinus infection, which means you should seek medical care as soon as possible.

A primary care physician has limited experience and resources for sinus infection treatment. Typically, a generalist will ask about your symptoms, then prescribe an antibiotic without in-depth testing or diagnostics.

So, many patients prefer to visit an ENT when they have sinus infections. A specialist has unique knowledge and experience, with the goal of getting to the root of the health concerns. Some sinus infections don’t respond to antibiotic treatments because they are viral or fungal, and an ENT can help with this diagnosis to ensure proper treatment.

Do I Have a Sinus Infection or Another Health Issue?

The early stages of a sinus infection can seem similar to other health conditions, such as allergies or a head cold. But as the infection progresses, you will notice unique symptoms that indicate a sinus infection: pain when bending forward, the pressure under and above the eyes, and pain that continues to increase.

If it’s a head cold, you will have a runny nose, congestion, sore throat, postnasal drip, sneezing, and other common symptoms. However, the common cold will go away within about a week. So, you will notice that the symptoms start to subside with your recovery.

If you have a viral sinus infection, you might notice the symptoms improving with time. But if the cause of the sinus infection is a bacterial or fungal infection, then the symptoms will continue getting worse until you seek treatment.

Pay attention to the timeline of your symptoms. When you notice that symptoms are lasting longer than a week and they seem to be getting worse, then it’s a sign that you might benefit from a consultation with an ENT.

ENT vs. Primary Care Physician

Is it necessary to visit your primary care physician first? It depends on your symptoms and insurance coverage.

For example, some insurance plans require a visit with the primary care physician in order to get a referral to a specialist. However, if the general physician is unable to diagnose and treat your condition, then they will refer you to talk to an ENT.

On the other hand, some patients prefer to go to the ENT directly. For example, if you have recurring sinus infections, it might not make sense to simply pick up another antibiotic.

An ENT helps with immediate relief and gets to the root of the problem to prevent issues in the future.

Different Types of Sinus Infections

Even though the symptoms are similar, there are actually different types of sinus infections. Understanding the various infections is vital so the doctor can identify the ideal treatment to get you the best results.

  • Acute Sinus Infection: With an acute infection, the symptoms start suddenly. Often, acute sinus infections are a secondary infection. For example, you might have a head cold, and the congestion results in the perfect conditions for the development of a bacterial sinus infection simultaneously.
  • Chronic Sinus Infection: Sinus infections are considered chronic if you have the symptoms for 3 months or longer. Or, if you have recurring sinus infections throughout the year, then it is considered a chronic condition – known as sinusitis.

Is Medical Treatment Necessary for a Sinus Infection?

Depending on the cause of a sinus infection, a mild or moderate infection might clear up with at-home treatments. You can use remedies like neti pot nasal rinsing, decongestants, and humidifiers to clear congestion and promote healing.

When you are taking medications and using nasal rinses to clear congestion, then it can have a positive impact on promoting healing. Minimizing congestion in the sinuses helps to reduce inflammation and keep the airways clear of obstruction.

Most patients will use at-home treatments in the initial stages of the sinus infection. If you find that the infection isn’t clearing or the symptoms are worsening, it might be time to seek medical support.

When to Talk to an ENT About Sinus Infections

Here are a few signs: you should call a local ear, nose, and throat specialist for sinus infection treatment.

  • You’ve been sick for more than 10 days, and the symptoms are not improving
  • It is hard to breathe through your nose because of the congestion
  • The areas around your eyes and nose are tender to the touch
  • The pain increases when you bend down or lean over
  • The congestion and pressure in the nose are getting worse
  • You start feeling better from the head cold, then notice that the sinus symptoms get worse
  • Green or yellow discharge is coming from the nose
  • At-home remedies and over-the-counter medications aren’t sufficient to help you find relief

Don’t hesitate to reach out to an ENT for a sinus infection. Diagnosis is always the first step. Our goal is to identify the cause of your symptoms. Then we can design a treatment plan that is customized to your unique needs.

Also, keep in mind that other seemingly unrelated symptoms could be an indication of a sinus infection. For example, you might feel like you have a toothache. The back molars are close to the sinuses, which could result in tooth pain when there is an infection in the area.

When Emergency Treatment Is Necessary for Sinus Infections

It’s rare that emergency care is needed for sinus infection treatment. Ideally, patients visit an ENT when the symptoms are still mild or moderate. But if the symptoms are severe and you need immediate help, don’t hesitate to go to urgent care or the emergency room.

Always seek emergency treatment if you notice any of these symptoms.

  • Severe sinus pain
  • Swelling in the face
  • Vision issues
  • Stiff neck
  • Fever higher than 102 F
  • Severe headache

Talk to an ENT About Sinus Infection Treatments

Sinus infections are painful and uncomfortable, so you should seek specialized care when you need assistance. Don’t wait for the symptoms to worsen. Instead, call an ENT at your earliest convenience to schedule an appointment.

We have a thorough diagnostic process and a variety of available treatments. In addition, every patient receives personalized services from our caring team.

These ENT services are available for people of all ages who live in the Collin County or Dallas areas. Call Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat to set up an examination in Frisco or Plano, TX, depending on your location. We offer an online form that you can use for appointment requests. Or, feel free to call our team at (972) 596-4005.

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