What Is a Sinus Infection?

What Is a Sinus Infection?

More than 35 million people in America experience at least one episode of a sinus infection or rhinosinusitis and most of them recover within a few weeks with proper treatment.

Sinus infection is either acute or chronic, and both of these have different treatments. If you understand what sinuses are and how they work, you can reduce your risk of getting the infection.

What Are Sinuses?

Sinuses are four air-filled cavities located behind your cheekbones as well as the forehead. Each cavity is lined with a mucus-producing membrane that humidifies the air we breathe as well as enhance our voices. However, when the lining gets inflamed, it produces thick and sticky mucus which clogs up the nose, causes fluid buildup, pain, and pressure. This is sinusitis.

Sinus Infection vs. A Common Cold?

Both sinus infections and common cold present similar symptoms in the first stages and the difference between the two is usually the duration. Viruses are the common cause of infection and they affect the upper respiratory system. Sinuses, on the other hand, are triggered by bacteria, virus or fungus.

Sinus infection is caused by a variety of environmental, genetic and anatomical factors, but common cold and allergies are the main culprits. A cold doesn’t directly cause a sinus infection, but they provide a favorable environment for bacterial growth. Furthermore, a common cold causes the sinus lining inflammation making it hard for mucus to drain properly.

Severe cases of sinusitis can result from a deviated septum or nasal polyps.

What Type of Sinus Infection Do You Have?

You can suffer from either acute or chronic sinus infections.

In acute, the symptoms last for less than a month, while chronic sinusitis symptoms last for more than three months and they are recurrent.

Both acute and chronic sinus infections have similar symptoms and they include runny nose, congestion, facial pain, nasal blockage, fever, pus in the nasal cavity, headaches, bad breath, and tooth pain. Only a doctor can tell the difference between the two, therefore, visit our emergency room in San Antonio if the sinus symptoms last for more than ten days and don’t respond to treatment. Also, look out for;

  • Swelling around your eyes and forehead
  • Severe headaches and confusion
  • Double vision and vision changes

Anyone can get sinusitis, but it is common in people who have blocked drainage ducts, and immune system deficiency.

Diagnosis and Management of Sinus Infection

Our doctor will assess and examine your nasal cavity using tests such as nasal endoscopy, imaging tests like CT scan, nasal sinus sampling, and allergy testing.

Most sinusitis symptoms clear up on their own with self-care, however, certain treatments can help ease the symptoms.

  • Nasal irrigation or sinus flush uses saltwater to flush away mucus, allergens, and other debris. Plus, it moistens the sinus membrane.
  • Decongestant, available in either nasal spray of pills, helps to reduce swelling in the nose which improves the airflow. Although the decongestants are effective in relieving sinus pressure, you should not use the nasal spray for more than two or three days as you may end up more stuffed up.
  • Immunotherapy or allergy shots work great for allergy-related conditions like sinus and asthma.
  • Certain home remedies such as rest and eating immune-boosting foods can help fight the inflammation. You can also try to moisten your sinuses using a damp cloth and vapor to help drain mucus.
  • Antibiotics are not necessarily needed for acute sinusitis even if its bacterial. However, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics for severe and persistent symptoms.

Is Sinus Infection Preventable?

Yes, and here are some suggestions;

  • Bathe your nasals passages to clear out excess mucus and to moisten the membrane
  • Drink water for proper hydration
  • Sleep with your head elevated
  • Stay away from antihistamines unless prescribed by the doctor
  • Avoid dry environment

Sinusitis Outlook

Acute sinus infection clears up in one or two weeks with proper treatment, but if ignored, the infection could advance and cause severe symptoms. Visit Express ER San Antonio if you experience recurrent sinus episodes.

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