Ear, Nose & Throat

How an ENT Addresses Sinus Infections

written by Becki Andrus
How an ENT Addresses Sinus Infections

Do you have recurring sinus infections, chronic pain, and congestion in the sinuses that never seem to go away? Then you might be living with sinusitis.

This condition is quite common, but it doesn’t mean you have to live indefinitely with the pain and discomfort. The best option is to reach out to an ENT specialist for personalized treatment.

General Medical Care vs. ENT Specialist

Most primary care physicians can assist with sinus infection treatment. For example, if you are experiencing symptoms of a sinus infection, then it’s likely that your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to clear up the symptoms.

This generalized medical care can be effective for patients who don’t experience sinus infections very often. But if your symptoms are chronic or severe, then the best idea is to visit a specialist for a more in-depth treatment plan.

An ENT specializes in conditions affecting the ears, nose, and throat – making this type of doctor the ideal resource for people experiencing chronic sinus issues. In fact, some ENTs focus on sinus issues specifically, which means you are being treated by a doctor who works with these conditions every day.

The specialized focus gives you access to a more thorough diagnostic and treatment plan than what is available from a primary care physician.

Acute vs. Chronic Sinus Infections

Treatments will vary depending on the type of sinus infection you are experiencing. First, your doctor will determine if you have an acute infection, which is usually a fast onset of symptoms, and the condition will clear up within about 10 days.

In a worst-case scenario, acute sinus infections will take 2 – 4 weeks to clear up. However, once the symptoms go away, you will return to feeling normal again.

Or, you might be living with chronic sinusitis. In this situation, it means that you are experiencing symptoms on an ongoing basis. The “chronic” classification occurs when you’ve had these symptoms for 12 weeks or longer.

Some patients have sinus infection symptoms that never go away: ongoing congestion, runny nose, sinus pressure, and pain. In other situations, you might have a flare-up every few weeks or months. If you have several sinus infections per year, then it likely falls in the “chronic” category.

How Does an ENT Treat Sinus Infections?

The first step in the treatment process is for the ENT to establish a diagnosis. Just because you are experiencing congestion and sinus pain doesn’t necessarily indicate the type of treatment you should be using. Sinus infections can occur for different reasons, so getting to the root of the problem is essential.

Your ENT will want to identify underlying health concerns that could be contributing to your sinusitis. For example, an antibiotic might clear up the current symptoms. Still, it’s common for the condition to return if your sinus infections are secondary infections due to allergies. Recurring symptoms will motivate you to learn more.

ENTs not only work to help you find immediate relief, but they are also looking for long-term solutions to minimize the risk of sinus infections in the future. Addressing these underlying issues can be a great way to help you return to health and optimize your wellness in the coming months and years.

Treatment Options for Sinus Infections

Keep in mind that sinus infections are treated differently, depending on the root cause. So, your ENT doctor will want to do a thorough examination and use diagnostic testing to get to the root of your symptoms.

If it’s an acute, viral sinus infection, the treatment recommendation is often to let the illness run its course. During this time, you can use at-home remedies to alleviate pain and symptoms, such as over-the-counter medications, nasal rinses, and warm compresses over the sinuses to relieve congestion.

Here are some of the other treatments that might be used to clear up an acute sinus infection and/or chronic sinusitis:

  • Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter medication can be a great way to help you alleviate the pain and discomfort from a sinus infection. Your doctor might recommend the use of ibuprofen or acetaminophen on an as-needed basis for pain relief.
  • Nasal Sprays: Steroidal nasal sprays can be helpful in reducing the inflammation in the sinuses. As the inflammation comes down, it allows better drainage to improve the symptoms.
  • Nasal Rinsing: A neti pot or other type of nasal irrigation can help clear congestion and open up the sinuses. Clearing out the congestion minimizes the risk of bacterial growth because the sinuses aren’t as blocked.
  • Antibiotics: If bacteria cause the sinus infection, then a course of antibiotics might be prescribed. Because of the growing concern about antibiotic resistance, ENTs are hesitant about prescribing antibiotics too often. Sometimes you can wait out the sickness with no adverse effects in order to avoid taking antibiotics.
  • Allergy Treatments: Do you have chronic allergies? Then treatments for the allergy symptoms should be part of the sinus treatment plan. Managing allergy symptoms, such as congestion and running nose, can reduce the risk of sinus infection development in the future.
  • Nasal Polyps: Sometimes, patients have nasal polyps that block the drainage in the nasal passageways. Out-patient treatments can be used to remove these polyps in the ENT office, which helps you avoid recurring sinus infections down the road.
  • Surgery: If the other treatments aren’t sufficient to clear up your sinus infection symptoms, it might be necessary to consider surgical treatments. Surgery is considered the last option. These treatments can widen the drainage pathways to make it easier for the mucus to drain from the sinuses.

When working with our team of doctors at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat, rest assured knowing that we always start with the most minimally-invasive treatments possible. Our goal is to help you manage these symptoms as quickly and efficiently as possible.

We offer a variety of services, which means that your treatment plan can always be adjusted based on your unique needs. In addition, we partner with our patients, helping you achieve the best results possible for your individual situation.

Schedule an ENT Appointment

You don’t need to live with sinus issues anymore. If you are looking for solutions so you can feel better, then it’s time to schedule a consultation with a local ENT.

Our services are available for patients in both the Collin County and Dallas areas. Call Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat for more information about the available treatments. Also, we have nearby office locations in Frisco and Plano, TX. You can fill out our online form for an appointment request or call: (972) 596-4005.

Our clients' stories

We find our patients’ experiences the most rewarding part of the job. Without them, we wouldn’t be one of the longest standing ENT practices in the area!

“We consulted Dr Tseng based on our pediatrician's recommendation. He's so great a doctor who took time to explain us everything and genuinely guided us in the right direction. He's such a caring, genuine and knowledgeable doctor. Oh how I wish there were more like him! ”

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“I have used Collin Co. ENT and Dr. Kenny Carter for over 3 years, primarily for ear problems. The staff has been consistently helpful and friendly to me. When I have had problems needing immediate attention and explained the need, have been able to get an appointment within a reasonable time to address the problem. I recommend Dr. Carter and his staff.”

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“Dr. Matheny performed 2 surgeries on my wife, both were successful with great results. He is not only a great surgeon, but a great person. It was a pleasure working with him. One of the best doctors we have ever seen in our lives.”

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