Timely Treatment for Sinus Infections
Sinus infections can be painful and take time to heal. At MedExpress, we understand that you want to get better, fast. Our caring, friendly medical team can help determine whether or not you have a sinus infection and recommend the proper treatment so you can start feeling better.
What is a Sinus Infection?
Also known as rhinosinusitis, these infections occur when your nasal cavities become infected, swollen and inflamed after fluid becomes trapped in the sinuses, allowing germs to grow. Sinusitis most commonly occurs after you've had a cold or a flare up of allergy symptoms and often persists even after other upper respiratory symptoms are gone.
Acute vs. Chronic
There are two types of sinusitis – acute and chronic. Knowing how they differ will help you get the care you need.
Acute sinusitis typically lasts a short period of time, four weeks or less. An acute infection is usually part of a cold or other respiratory illness and medications are generally effective in stopping the infection.
Chronic sinusitis may occur if your sinus infection lasts more than eight weeks or if you have more than four sinus infections each year.
Role of Sinuses
The sinuses are a connected system of hollow cavities in the skull that contain defenses against viruses and bacteria, including a mucous layer and cells that contain tiny hairs (cilia) on their surface that help trap and push out bacteria and pollutants.
Symptoms of Sinus Infections
A sinus infection may exhibit a range of these symptoms:
- Stuffy or runny nose
- Facial pain or pressure
- Sore throat
- Loss of the sense of smell
- Postnasal drip (mucus which drips down the throat from the nose)
If you have any of these symptoms after having a cold or a bout of seasonal allergies, visit your local MedExpress to have our caring medical team evaluate your condition. If the cause of symptoms is unclear, tests for flu or COVID-19 may be necessary to determine the correct diagnosis.
Diagnosing Sinus Infections
Your MedExpress medical team will review your symptoms and will perform a physical exam. During the exam, among other things, a provider may use an otoscope, an instrument that helps doctors examine the ear and nose, to check for signs of swelling, congestion and infection.
Treating Sinus Infections
Treatment depends upon your age and the severity of the infection. Some sinus infections get better without the use of antibiotics.
If our medical team finds that a bacterial infection is the culprit, antibiotics may be required to treat it. Our provider will prescribe antibiotics based on your age, the severity of your infection and whether you have an allergy to penicillin.
The appropriate use of antibiotics can help avoid potentially life-threatening allergic reactions and bacterial resistance. Your provider will discuss the appropriate treatment with you.
There are several remedies that may reduce sinus pain and pressure, including:
- Using a neti pot: This centuries old treatment uses a salt and distilled water solution to flush nasal passages. By using a neti pot daily or weekly, your sinus symptoms may improve.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking six to eight glasses of water a day can help thin your mucus and make it easier to breathe. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine, as they may dehydrate you.
- Get some rest: It's quite simple. Your body heals faster when you get more sleep. Keeping your head elevated may help you rest more easily.
- If your symptoms don't improve and last longer than 12 days, visit MedExpress for treatment.
While you wait for the infection to clear, there are a couple of things you can do for pain relief. You can use heat pads on the inflamed area, saline nasal sprays and vaporizers or humidifiers to help alleviate discomfort. Decongestants, ibuprofen or acetaminophen may also be helpful to lessen the pain. Before starting a new medication, consult your healthcare provider to determine if taking these medications are appropriate for you.