Sinus infection or sinusitis is medically known as rhinosinusitis. It is a result of swollen, inflamed and infected nasal cavities. Sinusitis is often caused by a virus. The issue persists even after the respiratory symptoms are gone. Sinus infection rarely but may cause by fungus and bacteria as well. Other conditions like nasal polyps, allergies and tooth infections can cause sinusitis.
Chronic Versus Acute
Acute sinusitis will last from a short period of time only, which is less than a month as per the American Academy of Otolaryngology. An acute infection is generally a part of any respiratory illness or mere cold. Chronic sinus infections, on the other hand, last for more than three months and recur often. Specialist confirms the sinusitis is responsible for infected nasal discharge, facial pain, and congestion. There are many symptoms of sinus infection which are common to both chronic and acute sinusitis.
When you feel or found out that you have certain symptoms that may be due to sinusitis, get in immediate touch with your doctor. He would be able to confirm whether you have an infection or not. If you have an infection, he would tell you the cause of the same and suggest you a treatment plan.
Symptoms of Sinus Infection
- A headache is one of the symptoms. It happens when there is pressure in partially or fully blocked sinuses. The pain increases when the person bends over.
- There would be facial swelling or tenderness when the areas above the sinus zones are touched.
- Pain or pressure due to the pressing of mucus on the sinus tissue or sinus inflammation.
- Fever caused due to sinus tissue inflammation and infection.
- In bacterial sinus infections, you would always find a cloudy and discolored nasal drainage.
- Congestion occurs with both non-infectious and infectious sinusitis.
- Sinusitis causes post nasal drip, which is basically mucus overproduction which flows to the throat thereby irritating throat tissue.
- A sore throat causing due to inflammation of throat tissue for post nasal drip.
- A cough is a way to clear out throat tissue irritants by the body which also happened to be a response to post nasal drip.
- Tooth pain causing due to pressure on surrounding tissues and nerves.
- Ear pain resulting from pressure on surrounding tissues and nerves.
- Eye pain happening due to pressure on surrounding tissues and nerves.
- Fatigue due to immune response, coughing, and fever.
- Bad breath causing due to bacterial infections.
- In non-infections sinusitis, there are other allergy symptoms associated with sneezing and itching of eyes. However, in infectious sinusitis, there are additional symptoms other than these.
- People suffering from non-infectious sinusitis will have clear or whitish colored nasal drainage.
- Multiple chronic symptoms for more than one to three months are usually a sign of chronic or subacute sinusitis.
When to See a Doctor?
See your physician when you have symptoms of sinus infection such as congestion, nasal discharge, fever and facial pain that last for more than 10 days and often come back. Though fever is not the most common symptom of acute or chronic sinusitis it is a possibility. You may also have an underlying condition causing the chronic infections, which is reason enough to need special treatment.
Treating Sinus Infections
To treat the symptoms of sinus infection, use a nasal decongestant spray like oxymetazoline to relieve sinus infection symptoms for short-term. However, you must limit the usage to a maximum of three days. This is because longer use would cause a rebound effect of nasal congestion. Keep in mind that prolonged use of nasal spray to treat an infection can worsen your symptoms.
You can also use steroid nasal spray like triamcinolone, fluticasone or mometasone for the nasal congestion symptoms without the threat of rebound symptoms due to prolonged use. Both triamcinolone and fluticasone nasal sprays are available OTC in drug stores.
There are other OTC medicines as well that contain decongestants and antihistamines which can give you relief from sinus infections especially if you suffer from allergies as well. These medicines are:
However, decongestants are not recommended for patients with prostate issues, high blood pressure, sleep difficulties and glaucoma. Before taking any of the mentioned medicines check with your doctor if they are good enough options for your condition. The doctor is the only person who can suggest the best option for you.
Nasal irrigation is also a useful option to treat both chronic and acute case of sinusitis along with seasonal allergies and allergic rhinitis as per the outcome of some recent studies.
Using tap water for nasal rinse system may involve risk of infections. Thus, it is better to boil the water, let it cool before using. Alternately, one can use filtered water, distilled water, and OTC pre mixed solutions.