When To See A Doctor For Sinus Pain
If your sinus symptoms are not getting better with at-home treatments, and if your sinus symptoms last longer than seven to 10 days, you should see a doctor for treatment. Allina Health has many convenient care options for care, from online visits to walk-in care, to help you get better fast.
If you have frequent or reoccurring sinus infections, you may want to see an ear, nose and throat for your treatment options.
Causes & Risk Factors
Any health situation that blocks off the vital drainage channels of your sinuses can cause a sinus infection including:
- Respiratory infections like the common cold
- Hay fever or exposure to allergens such as cigarette smoke, dry air and pollutants
- Obstructions in the nasal or sinus cavities including nasal polyps, deviated septum, or nasal bone spur
- Non-allergic rhinitis
- Infections resulting from dental problems
- Physical injury to the sinuses
- Bacteria, viruses, and fungi
The five most common bacteria that can cause sinus infections are: Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, Staphylococcus aureus, and Streptococcus pyogenes.
Risk factors for sinus infections include:
- Having asthma
- Being in the hospital, especially if the reason you are in the hospital is related to a head injury or you needed a tube inserted into your nose
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What Is A Bacterial Infection
Before learning about how to cure Bacterial Infection, it is essential to know what a bacterial infection is. Microorganisms like Bacteria can survive in different environments including the human body.
These can live in or on the body of humans. While there are many bacteria that are not harmful and greatly aid in body processes, certain bacteria do harm the body causing infections. Such infections are contagious and the transmission is through different media like air, food, and water.
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But Sometimes Antibiotics For Sinus Infections Are Needed
So how does one judge when it is appropriate to prescribe antibiotics for a sinus infection? There are several sets of official guidelines, which are all similar. When a patient has thick, colorful nasal discharge and/or facial pressure or pain for at least 10 days, they meet criteria for antibiotic treatment. If a patient has had those symptoms, but the symptoms seemed to start improving and then got worse again, then even if its been less than 10 days, they meet criteria for antibiotic treatment.
The authors, however, also suggest that doctors discuss watchful waiting with patients and explain that most sinus infections clear up on their own in one to two weeks, and its a safe option to hold off on antibiotics. The symptoms can then be treated with a cocktail of over-the-counter medications and supportive care, like nasal saline irrigation, nasal steroid sprays, decongestants, and pain medications.
Of course, many patients expect and demand antibiotics for sinus infections, and even those who are open to watchful waiting may hear about the rare but possible complications of things like, oh, brain abscess, and opt to treat.
In the case of my patient above, she met criteria for treatment. She weighed the watchful waiting option against the potential risks of antibiotics for her sinus infection, and chose the prescription. I can tell you from very close follow-up that she improved quickly, though in truth, we will never really know if she would have gotten better anyway.
How Do You Get Rid Of A Sinus Infection Naturally
For those who want to limit their intake of all medications, including over-the-counter drugs, there are several natural home remedies that can provide relief from sinus pressure.
Many home remedies for sinus infections rely on hydration of the nasal passages. This can take the form of anything from holding a warm compress to your face, keeping your head over a bowl of hot water to breath in the steam, or even taking a hot shower. Increasing the amount of moisture in the nasal cavities can help flush irritants out of your nose, which will reduce your inflammation.
One of the most popular ways to treat a sinus infection at home is with the use of a neti pot. This treatment involves nasal irrigation where the sinuses are flushed with saline solution or distilled water either by pouring water from a neti pot or injecting it carefully into the sinuses with a bulb or syringe.
Just because nasal irrigation with a neti pot or small syringe is natural does not mean it is universally safe. It is vital that you use distilled water, as further infection can result from untreated tap water being placed in the sinus cavities. The infections caused by improper use of a neti pot have resulted in death, and for this reason some medical professionals are hesitant to recommend this treatment.
Runny Nose And Postnasal Drip
When you have a sinus infection, you may need to blow your nose often because of nasal discharge, which can be cloudy, green, or yellow. This discharge comes from your infected sinuses and drains into your nasal passages.
The discharge may also bypass your nose and drain down the back of your throat. You may feel a tickle, an itch, or even a sore throat.
What Home Remedies Help Soothe Sinus Infection Or Sinusitis Symptoms
Sinus infections caused by viruses can use home treatments such as pain and fever medications , decongestants, and mucolytics. In addition, some health care professionals suggest nasal irrigation or a sinus rinse solution to help relieve symptoms of sinus infections, even chronic sinusitis symptoms. This irrigation is accomplished with a Neti-Pot or a sinus rinse kit . The last reference of this article shows a video of a sinus rinse procedure. In 2012, the FDA issued a warning about the use of Neti-Pots. The FDA cautions people not to use untreated tap water for rinsing, as contaminated tap water rinses lead to two deaths.
Bacterial and fungal sinus infections usually require antibiotic or antifungal therapy so home treatments without them are often not successful. However, some authors suggest home treatments may reduce symptoms after medical therapy has begun some healthcare professionals recommend nasal irrigation after sinus surgery.
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What Are The Common Home Remedies To Treat Sinus Infection
The nine common home remedies to treat sinus infection include:
- At-home vaporizer or humidifier: It may help relieve sinus symptoms. Sometimes a hot shower may also relieve sinus symptoms.
- Use of lavender essential oil, peppermint essential oil, and eucalyptus oil while breathing steam may relieve nasal pressure.
- A warm compress over the nose and forehead helps relieve sinus pressure.
- Use of a syringe or a neti pot to stream a solution of non-iodized salt, baking soda, and lukewarm distilled water through the nostrils to help keep nasal passages clean. Also, a patient may choose a product from a pharmacy that is already prepared and ready to mix from packets.
- Drink warm water to stay hydrated.
- Drinking warm ginger tea with turmeric may help relieve nasal congestion.
- Drinking warm water with apple cider vinegar may help in fighting a sinus infection. Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and antifungal properties and is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, calcium, and magnesium which aids in treating sinus infection. It works by loosening up the mucous and clearing nasal passages.
- Eat a balanced diet that also includes spices, and a diet rich in vitamin C and minerals help build immunity to fight infection.
- Sleep with the head elevated at night or keeping a humidifier running at home to avoid an arid environment may help relieve sinus pressure.
How Do You Treat Chronic Sinusitis
Whether it is seasonal allergies that return every year like clockwork, or naturally small nasal passages that do not drain readily, some people find that chronic sinusitis is a part of life. In these cases, proactive treatment with decongestants and antihistamines can help to stave off the sinus congestion that can give rise to an infection.
Changes to your home environment such as eliminating dust and mold where possible and using a humidifier can all help provide relief as well. Many people who have recurring or chronic sinusitis also make use of steam therapy or neti pots to keep their sinus passages hydrated when symptoms begin. In extreme cases, having a doctor who knows your symptoms and knows when to give prescription medications may be necessary.
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What Is A Chronic Sinus Infection
The sinuses are small cavities in the skull that are normally filled with air. They produce mucus, which helps keep the nasal passages clear of allergens and pollutants. If all goes well, mucus drips harmlessly down the back of your throat, and you dont even notice it.
When you have sinusitis, the tissues that line your sinus cavities become inflamed. In some cases this swelling blocks off the sinuses, trapping mucus and causing a variety of annoying symptoms.
This can cause pain and pressure, as your sinuses arent able to drain normally. If symptoms linger, chronic sinusitis can develop, lasting for several weeks and even lingering and causing misery for years.
Untreated Sinus Infection Risks
Sinus infections often start to improve on their own after about 10 days. If your symptoms last longer without improving or if they worsen, a doctor may need to treat the underlying cause of the infection.
If a sinus infection affects a sinus cavity close to the brain, it can spread to the brain if left untreated. Though rare, an infection can also pass into the eye socket and cause vision changes or blindness. These types of infections are more common in kids.
While uncommon, a serious fungal sinus infection left untreated may pass into the bones.
Make an appointment with a doctor if you have severe symptoms, or if the following symptoms last longer than 10 days or keep coming back:
- facial pain
Because the cause of your sinus infection can affect your treatment options, its important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if youre looking for a doctor.
If you believe you have chronic or recurring sinusitis, consider asking for a referral to an otolaryngologist, also known as an ear, nose, and throat specialist. You may need imaging and other tests to determine the cause of your symptoms.
An ENT specialist can take a culture of nose drainage to better understand the cause of an infection. The ENT specialist can also examine the sinuses more closely and look for any problem in the structure of the nasal passages that could lead to chronic sinus problems.
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Naturally My Cold Progressed Into A Sinus Infection And I Had A Decision To Make I Could Go Down To The Clinic And Get An Antibiotic Or I Could Try To Treat It Naturally
After doing some more research, I found that most sinus infections are viral and will actually go away without antibiotics, and since I am trying to rebuild my gut health, antibiotics should not be my first choice.
Since we previously lived in a moldy environment, I knew that there was a high chance that this sinus infection was either viral or fungal. That doesnt make it more pleasant to deal with, it simply tells me that getting an antibiotic would likely have no impact on the symptoms.
The symptoms were still brutal: negative pressure in my cheekbones and face, throbbing teeth, and horrible headaches. Ill be honest, as someone who has given birth naturally, twice I may actually prefer that to the facial pain that comes with a sinus infection. Theres just something about the sensitive nerves in your face throbbing with no relief that really does you in.
How Can I Treat Chronic Sinus Infections Without Antibiotics
If youre suffering from chronic sinusitis , you understand all too well that its a painful condition. As it lingers for weeks on end, you grow weary of having to endure unpleasant, irritating symptoms.
You may even plead with your doctor to give you an antibiotic, expecting instant relief.
In this blog, the sinus specialists at DFW Sinus Select will address if you can treat chronic sinus infections without antibiotics.
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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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**The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
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Symptoms Of Bacterial Sinusitis
Symptoms of bacterial sinusitis include:
- Pressure or pain around the nose, in the forehead, in the cheeks or around the eyes. The pain often gets worse if the affected person bends forward.
- Discolored, thick nasal discharge
- Painful teeth
- Painful chewing
Good to know: Bacterial sinusitis can follow a cold or the flu, and often the symptoms occur just when it seems as if the initial infection is clearing up. In this situation it is common to start to feel better, and then to feel worse as the subsequent bacterial sinusitis develops.
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may have bacterial sinusitis, you can do a free symptom assessment using the Ada app at any time.
What Decongestants And Nasal Sprays Soothe Or Cure Sinus Infections Or Sinusitis
Taking decongestants and mucolytics orally may be helpful in assisting drainage of sinus infection.
The treatment of chronic forms of sinus infection requires longer courses of medications, such as Augmentin, and may require a sinus drainage procedure. This drainage typically requires a surgical operation to open the blocked sinus under general anesthesia. In general, antihistamines should be avoided unless it is felt that the sinusitis sinus infection is due to allergies, such as from pollens, dander, or other environmental causes.
It is likely that the use of a topical nasal steroid spray will help reduce swelling in the allergic individual without the drying that is caused by using antihistamines although both are occasionally used. Oral steroids may be prescribed to reduce acute inflammation and to help with chronic inflammation in cases with or without polyps and in allergic fungal sinusitis.
In many people, allergic sinusitis develops first, and later, bacterial infection occurs. For these individuals, early treatment of allergic sinusitis may prevent the development of secondary bacterial sinusitis.
In rare instances or in natural disasters, fungal infections may develop in debilitated people. Death rates of 50%-85% have been reported for patients with these sinus infections. Treatment relies on early diagnosis followed by immediate surgical debridement, antifungal drugs, , and stabilizing any underlying health problem such as diabetes.
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What Are The Six Types Of Sinusitis And Sinus Infections
Sinusitis may be classified in several ways, based on its duration and the type of inflammation . The term rhinosinusitis is used to imply that both the nose and sinuses are involved and is becoming the preferred term over sinusitis.
- Acute sinus infection usually lasts less than 3-5 days.
- Subacute sinus infection lasts one to three months.
- Chronic sinus infection is greater than three months. Chronic sinusitis may be further sub-classified into chronic sinusitis with or without nasal polyps, or allergic fungal sinusitis.
- Recurrent sinusitis has several sinusitis attacks every year.
There is no medical consensus on the above time periods.
- Infected sinusitis usually is caused by an uncomplicated virus infection. Less frequently, bacterial growth causes sinus infection and fungal sinus infection is very infrequent. Subacute and chronic forms of a sinus infection usually are the result of incomplete treatment of an acute sinus infection.
- Noninfectious sinusitis is caused by irritants and allergic conditions and follows the same general timeline for acute, subacute, and chronic as infectious sinusitis.
What Tests Diagnose The Cause Of Sinus Infections And Sinusitis
Sinus infection is most often diagnosed based on the history and examination of a doctor. Because plain X-ray studies of the sinuses may be misleading and procedures such as CT and MRI scans, which are much more sensitive in their ability to diagnose a sinus infection, are so expensive and not available in most doctors offices, most sinus infections are initially diagnosed and treated based on clinical findings on examination. These physical findings may include:
- redness and swelling of the nasal passages,
- purulent drainage from the nasal passages ,
- tenderness to percussion over the cheeks or forehead region of the sinuses, and
- swelling about the eyes and cheeks.
Occasionally, nasal secretions are examined for secreted cells that may help differentiate between infectious and allergic sinusitis. Infectious sinusitis may show specialized cells of infection while allergic sinusitis may show specialized white blood cells of allergy . Physicians prescribe antibiotics if the bacterial infection is suspected. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections many physicians then treat the symptoms.
In addition, both rigid and flexible endoscopy has been used to obtain diagnostic material from sinuses. These procedures are usually done by an otolaryngologist under topical and local anesthesia. Occasionally, there may be a need to sedate the patient. Some investigators suggest that endoscopy specimens are comparable to those obtained by needle puncture.
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