How To Treat A Sinus Infection
When you develop a sinus infection, you can do several things on your own to ease your symptoms. Dr. Varghese recommends, over-the-counter pain relievers, decongestants, and nasal sprays. Humidifiers can also help.
Here are some other at-home remedies and commercially available medications to help you feel better:
- Over-the-counter antihistamines. Seasonal allergy medications can help reduce sinus inflammation if youre suffering from allergy-induced sinusitis.
- Warm compresses. Applying a warm compress to your face can help ease discomfort and open your nasal passages so you can breathe easier.
- Sinus rinses. Flushing your nose with water from a neti pot can help remove excess mucus from your sinuses, which will help you feel less congested.
How Long Does It Take For A Sinus Infection To Go Away Can They Be Cured
A person may be “cured” of a sinus infection when the symptoms stop, usually after about 3 weeks. However, a “cure” often is temporary in some people that either have chronic or recurrent sinus infections. Bacterial sinus infections may benefit from antibiotics , but there is no antibiotic treatment for viral sinusitis.
Duration Of Sinus Infection
Acute sinusitis causes inflammation and symptoms that often develop quickly and last 7 to 10 days if caused by a viral infection. But the illness can last for up to 4 weeks if it’s caused by a bacterial infection.
Chronic sinusitis lasts for 12 weeks or more. This inflammation can continue for months or years more, and people often describe them as a never-ending cold.
Sinusitis may also be classified as:
- Subacute, in which symptoms last for more than 4 weeks but less than 12 weeks
- Recurrent acute, in which there are at least four acute sinus infection episodes within one year
- Acute exacerbation of chronic rhinosinusitis, in which symptoms worsen in a person with chronic sinusitis
But having symptoms of sinusitis doesnt always mean that you have a sinus infection.
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The Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection
People often assume that its possible to tell the difference between a viral and bacterial sinus infection based on the type of symptoms they experience. Unfortunately, thats not the case. Usually, the symptoms of a sinus infection are the same or very similar whether its caused by bacteria or a virus.
Common symptoms of either a viral or bacterial sinus infection include green or yellow mucous/discharge, bad breath, headache, and fever.
Is A Sinus Infection Contagious
When you have a cold, the flu or COVID, the infectious particles replicate themselves in the nose. These illnesses also tend to cause coughing and sneezing, which project these germs out of your body. For this reason, you can easily spread these bugs to anyone around you.
But the infectious material in a sinus infection is behind the face, not actually in the nose. So while its possible to spread a sinus infection, they dont spread easily without very close contact.
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Can A Sinus Infection Be Contagious
People often wonder if sinus infections are contagious? The short answer is: No. Sinus infections are typically a result of either a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection and, by themselves, cannot spread from person to person.
However, because “sinusitis” as doctors like to call it often stems from a contagious viral infection, such as the common cold or influenza, it’s important to understand that the root of the illness could likely be contagious. Therefore, it’s important to practice good hygiene and prevent transmission as much as possible.
Additionally, sinusitis is commonly accompanied by several other shared symptoms stemming from the main viral infection, including post nasal drip, sinus pain, and congestion, which helps contribute to the belief that sinusitis is the root condition and that it is spreadable.
How To Avoid Spreading Your Contagious Sinus Infection
David Cuthbertson, MD
The old adage, sharing is caring, doesnt apply to illnesses.
But with over 30 million Americans diagnosed with sinus infections every year, how can we be sure we arent spreading this particular ailment to those around us?
Should we to go to work or to the grocery store with a sinus infection? Or should we call in sick and order our groceries online?
Is a sinus infection contagious? And if it is, should you stay home? Wear a mask? Or carry on as usual?
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Symptoms Of Bacterial Sinusitis In Children
In children, the symptoms of sinusitis may differ from those in adults. Children may experience:
- Scar tissue in sinus areas, for example from nasogastric tubes or mechanical ventilation
- Facial fractures
- Tooth or mouth infections such as a dental abscess
In general, women are slightly more likely than men to get bacterial sinusitis.
If youâve had a cold or any of the disorders listed above, and youâre concerned that you may have bacterial sinusitis, check out the Ada app for a free symptom assessment.
When To Seek Medical Care
See a doctor if you have:
- Severe symptoms, such as severe headache or facial pain.
- Symptoms that get worse after initially improving.
- Symptoms lasting more than 10 days without improvement.
- Fever longer than 3-4 days.
You should also seek medical care if you have had multiple sinus infections in the past year.
This list is not all-inclusive. Please see a doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.
Other conditions can cause symptoms similar to a sinus infection, including:
- Seasonal allergies
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Using The Right Water During Saline Rinses
When using saline nasal rinses, tap water should always be boiled and then allowed to cool to ensure cleanliness distilled water or premixed solutions could also be used instead of regular tap water.
Other home remedies for sinus infections include:
- Drinking fluids: Drinking lots of fluids helps loosen and thin mucus. Avoid beverages that are caffeinated and alcoholic beverages that can dehydrate the body, which could thicken mucus.
- Breathing steam: Warm water is best . You can breathe in steam from either a bowl or shower.
- Humidifying the air: Use a cool air vaporizer or humidifier,particularly at night while sleeping.
- Avoiding environmental substances: Avoid tobacco smoke and chlorinated water that can dry up the mucus membranes and exacerbate symptoms.
- Implementing treatment measures: At the first sign of infection, use antihistamines and employ regular nasal rinses.
Why Do Sinus Infections Occur
Your sinuses are hollow chambers inside your cheeks, forehead and between the eyes. The lining of these passages can swell, causing a buildup of mucus.
Many develop a sinus infection after catching a cold, known as the rhinovirus. A runny nose and congestion, common cold symptoms, can cause inflammation and prevent the sinuses from draining properly.
If you are experiencing a viral sinus infection, you cant spread the infection to others, but you can pass along the virus. Someone who catches the virus from you is then at a higher risk of also developing a sinus infection. You may be contagious for up to two weeks.
Sinus infections can also be caused by bacteria. When mucus pools, it becomes an ideal spot for bacteria to grow.
Allergies, nasal polyps and anything that causes a structural blockage of the sinus cavity can cause an infection, as the narrowed pathway makes it harder for mucus to adequately drain. None of these causes are contagious.
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When To See A Doctor About A Sinus Infection
On the other hand, a secondary acute bacterial infection may develop, so it’s advised that you see a doctor if your symptoms last more than 10 days or if your symptoms initially improve but then worsen again within the first 7 days.
See a doctor immediately if you experience:
- A persistent fever higher than 102 degrees F
- Changes in vision, including double vision
- Symptoms that are not relieved with over-the-counter medicines
- Multiple infections within the past year
- Sudden, severe pain in the face or head
- Swelling or redness around the eyes
- Stiff neck
Acute Subacute And Chronic Bacterial Sinusitis
Bacterial sinusitis can be grouped into the following subtypes based on the duration of symptoms:
- Acute, which lasts for less than four weeks
- Subacute, lasting for between four and 12 weeks
- Chronic, lasting for more than 12 weeks
- Recurrent acute, occurring four or more times a year, for more than seven days, with symptoms resolving completely in between bouts
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Types Of Sinus Infections
There are several types of sinus infections, which are classified by duration.
They include the following:
- Acute infections that last for about 4 or less weeks
- Subacute infections that last for about 4 12 weeks
- Chronic infections that last for longer than 12 weeks
- Recurrent infections that occur several times a year
Additionally, each type of sinus infection has several potential causes, including bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
Some cases of sinusitis occur with only swelling and inflammation due to blockages in the nasal passages or deformities in the sinus cavities. Allergies and chronic exposure to pollutants can also lead to sinus infections.
Sinus infections often feel like a bad cold. It may be difficult for people to distinguish between a cold and a sinus infection. Some of the most common symptoms resemble a cold. These include:
- pressure in the sinus cavities
Sinus infections caused by bacteria have a few additional symptoms. These symptoms include:
- pus-like or thick nasal discharge
- symptoms lasting longer than a week
- facial pain
For most sinus infections, treatment focuses primarily on symptom relief. There are many options available to relieve bothersome symptoms.
- nasal irrigation to reduce mucus drainage and remove irritants
- medicated nasal sprays containing corticosteroids that reduce inflammation
- oral steroids for more severe infections
Some of the most common over-the-counter treatments to help treat sinus infections include:
Complications Of Sinus Infection
Sinus inflammation can spread to the bones and soft tissues of the face and eyes. This can cause:
- Cellulitis of the face or around the eyes
- Abscesses of the eyes
Left intreated, sinus infections can also lead to serious intracranial complications, including blood clots within the cavernous sinus, pus between the skulls and dura mater , and meningitis.
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Acute Sinusitis Vs Chronic Sinusitis
Not all sinus infections progress the same way. The length and severity of your symptoms can vary. When symptoms develop and resolve quickly, within 7 10 days, this is called acute sinusitis. If symptoms last for several weeks or continue to return frequently, this is called chronic sinusitis. Acute sinusitis commonly develops from a cold, while chronic sinusitis typically stems from an underlying cause such as bacterial infection, allergies, or nasal polyps.
What About Decongestants
are not recommended for adults or children with acute sinusitis and should not be used for more than three to five days in order to prevent rebound congestion.
If symptoms persist or worsen after 10 days, doctors may prescribe:
- Antibiotics , such as Moxatag or Augmentin
- Stronger topical or oral decongestants
- Intranasal steroids, such as Flonase and Nasonex
Chronic sinus infection requires additional treatment focused on managing the severity of symptoms. Leukotriene antagonist drugs may be prescribed, and surgery may be considered in cases of a deviated septum.
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How To Blow Your Nose
To clear your blocked nose, close one nostril at a time and lightly blow through it. The anti-inflammitory may help reduce the swelling so that you can open up passage for mucous to come out more easily! If nothing else works then lubricating spray will be helpful in loosening dry crusted bits of gel or boogers with its moisturizing properties on sensitive skin types like yours .
What Are The Symptoms Of A Sinus Infection
Sinus infections are typically diagnosed as either acute or chronic depending on their frequency and duration. Here is a list of symptoms commonly associated with both conditions:
Common symptoms of an acute sinus infection include:
difficulty breathing through your nose
Chronic sinusitis symptoms may also include:
discolored discharge from your nose
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When Does Antibiotic Resistance Occur
Antibiotic resistance occurs in a persons own body and within the community when certain drugs no longer work for a specific type of germ. This can occur when bacteria change in response to exposure to antibiotics so that the antibiotics no longer work efficiently against the bacteria.
Therefore, allergists and other specialists recommend limiting the use of antibiotics unless:
- Symptoms last over seven to 10 days
- Specific symptoms are present
- A fever is present
Home Remedies For Bacterial Sinusitis
In many cases, home remedies may be sufficient. Some people find breathing humid air or steam, such as in a warm shower, helps to relieve symptoms. Also, holding a warm pad over the painful area helps to relieve discomfort. Nasal irrigation with saline solution is helpful in reducing congestion in the nose. It is also very important to stay well-hydrated, so affected people should be sure to drink enough fluids.
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Which Type Of Bronchitis Is Contagious
According to bronchitis etiology, short-term or acute condition usually follows a common cold, flu, or infections of the respiratory tract, while long-term or chronic bronchitis is manifested after exposure to respiratory irritants. Yes, acute bronchitis is contagious, and no, chronic cases are not. When bronchitis is caused by infections , then only it is transmittable to other healthy individuals. Since acute bronchitis is caused due to cold, flu, and alike infections, the pathogens can transmit in the same way like common cold and influenza viruses.
How Can You Keep From Spreading A Sinus Infection
Try incorporating these common sense practices to keep from spreading your sinus infection.
- Wash your hands! This seems basic, but it always bears repeating. Handwashing really is the best way to prevent the spread of germs! Be sure to wash with soap and water before handling food, after using the restroom, and especially after blowing your nose or touching your face.
- Cover your cough! Feeling a tickle in your throat? Turn away from those around you and cough into the crook of your elbow. This prevents germs from getting all over your hands while still stopping droplets from spreading.
- Stay home when possible. Even though it takes pretty close contact to spread a sinus infection, staying home and getting rest can help you get back to your normal routine as soon as possible.
- Get better faster. Try using home remedies like over-the-counter medications or a neti pot to help speed up your recovery. In fact, one study in children showed that nasal irrigation was almost as helpful as antibiotics in clearing up sinus infections!
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How Do You Get A Sinus Infection
A sinus infection can develop when there is swelling in the sinus cavities. If the sinuses become too swollen, they can narrow and become obstructedmaking it difficult for mucus to drain. When mucus builds and backs up within sinus passages, it can become infected and voilayou get a sinus infection. The most common cause of a sinus infection is a viral cold.
Like any virus, the virus that causes the common cold is highly contagious. However, thankfully, every cold does not develop into a sinus infection. So while viral sinus infections are caused by cold viruses which are indeed very contagious, the sinus infections that result, are not contagious. If you get a viral sinus infection, it should resolve on its own within two weeks.
You may be thinking, wait I thought the only way to clear up a sinus infection was by taking antibiotics. Nope, not true. Viral sinus infections wont respond to antibiotics. And taking antibiotics when you dont need to can be dangerous and contribute to antibiotic resistance. However, in the case where your sinus infection was spurred by a bacterial infection, antibiotics are exactly what you need to fight the infection.
What Causes Sinus Infections
The most common cause of sinusitis are viral respiratory infections that lead to swelling and irritation of the sinuses, the most frequent being the common cold.
Other ways to contract a sinus infection include:
- Nasal polyps, or small growths in the lining of the nose, that may be asymptomatic but block the normal sinus pathways
- Any structural change to the nasal cavity, such as a deviated septum or history of sinus or nose surgery
- Hay fever causing swelling to the noses lining, usually during common allergy seasons
While sinus infections are common and most adults will experience one over their lifetimes, there are outside influences that can lead to more frequent cases of sinusitis.
Risk factors for an increased chance of a sinus infection include:
- A lasting cold
- Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
- A broken nose or other structural problems within the sinuses
- A weak immune system, or starting the cycle of a new drug that weakens the immune system
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What To Do For Chronic Sinusitis
If youre suffering from chronic sinusitis or you are getting frequent sinus infections you should see your doctor, says Dr. Sindwani.
Your doctor will swab your nose to collect mucus. Culturing it in a laboratory will reveal which type of bacteria is causing the infection so the right antibiotic can be prescribed.
Treat early sinus infection symptoms with rest, hydration and over-the-counter sprays and decongestants. But dont look for an antibiotic unless your illness extends beyond a week, he says. Then check in with your doctor for a prescription and let him or her know if your condition worsens.