Should You Visit A Specialist
If your sinus infection just wont go away or keeps coming back, it may be time to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist. An ENT treats conditions of the ear, nose, throat, head, face, and neck. It may be time to see an ENT if:
- Youve completed several courses of antibiotics without success
- Your doctor suspects nasal polyps or another blockage of the nasal cavity
- You have chronic sinusitis that lasts longer than 12 weeks
Living with a sinus infection is miserable and living with a sinus infection for weeks on end is worse. Contact your doctor or an ENT to get the treatment you need.
Tips For Treating Chronic Sinus Infections
No matter the season, having a cold is never convenient. Its even worse when your cold turns into a sinus infection. A sinus infection will stick around long after symptoms of an upper respiratory infection are gone. You might even know its a sinus infection because you get sinus infections frequently. Perhaps your doctor diagnosed your sinus infection after you just couldnt seem to get better. After all, since almost 30 million Americans suffer from sinusitis, your doctor likely treats them a lot.
The question is, when do you need to see a specialist? If your sinus infection just isnt going away, or if you seem to get recurrent sinus infections, it may be time to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
How Long Do Antibiotics Take To Work On Sinus Infections
Often, sinus infections are treated with antibiotics. However, your doctor will determine the best treatment based on the root cause of your sinus infection. If antibiotics are prescribed, you may want to know how long it will be before you start to experience relief from symptoms.
Read on to find out how sinus infections are diagnosed, when your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, and how long it will take antibiotics to take effect.
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Antibiotics And Sinus Infections
When a sinus infection hits, it seems worse than what you remembered from the last time you had one. This may give you the idea that you need antibiotics, but most clear up without them. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses and aren’t recommended within the first week of developing a cold. About 70% of sinus infections go away within two weeks without antibiotics.
Consider these other forms of treatments instead of antibiotics:
- These medications are available for over-the-counter purchase. Be careful to only take these medications for a few days at most, as they can cause the return of more severe congestions.
- Over-the-counter pain relievers Aspirins, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help relieve temporary pain.
- Saline nasal spray This is used to spray into your nose several times a day to rinse your nasal passages. It can help to prevent and treat inflammation.
Antibiotics only will be needed if the infection is severe, recurrent or persistent.
The likelihood of bacterial infection increases when:
- Symptoms last seven days or more, particularly when symptoms initially improve and then worsen.
- Mucus is thick and yellow or green in color.
- There is facial or sinus tenderness, particularly if it’s worse on one side of the face.
- Pain is present in the upper teeth and is worse on one side of the face.
If the infection becomes severe, recurrent or persistent, contact your provider.
Is There A Best Antibiotic For A Sinus Infection
In most cases, a sinus infection doesnt need antibiotics it will go away on its own. Viruses are usually the cause of sinusitis. However, if yours is due to a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic treatment to shorten your recovery time and relieve your symptoms. Amoxicillin, with or without clavulanate,is a first-line antibiotic prescribed for sinus infections, but your doctor will prescribe the antibiotic thats best for your condition.
Only take antibiotics if your doctor prescribes them. Dont try to self-treat your sinus infection by taking leftover antibiotics you may have on hand. Taking antibiotics when you dont need them wont help your condition and could cause serious health problems.
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You Probably Dont Need Antibiotics For Sinus Infections Or Sinusitis
If you were wondering whether you needed antibiotics for a sinus infection, heres why antibiotics are rarely the right treatment for chronic sinusitis. According to the CDC, 9 out of 10 sinus infections are caused by viruses, while only 1 out of 10 cases of sinusitis are caused by bacterial infections. Antibiotics can only treat bacterial infections, and therefore an antibiotic treatment will not be effective for most sinus infections caused by chronic sinusitis.
For people with chronic sinusitis, taking antibiotics to clear up as many as four sinus infections a year can have some unintended long term consequences. The more often you take antibiotics for basic illnesses, the worse your body becomes at actually fighting them off. Not only will your sinus infections keep coming back, the effectiveness of antibiotics against other, more serious infections could become compromised.
Treatment For Sinus Infection
Whether you have an acute sinus infection or a chronic infection, a number of treatment options can relieve your discomfort. If youre in the early stage of an acute sinus infection, it may be appropriate to start at-home treatments while you monitor your symptoms. If your sinusitis worsens, youll need to call your doctor for medication and further care. Even if youre receiving treatment from your doctor, at-home care can help ease your symptoms.
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When And Why You Might Need An Antibiotic For A Cold
Daniel More, MD, is a board-certified allergist and clinical immunologist with a background in internal medicine.
Any given adult will get a cold at least a couple of times a yearusually in the fall and winter. Kids can get many colds, maybe even half a dozen or more a year. When you get a cold, also known as an upper respiratory tract infection, should you visit your healthcare provider and get antibiotics?
The truth is, antibiotics for respiratory infections arent going to make you feel better sooner, and they might even leave you with side effects that make you feel worse.
Colds are known medically as upper respiratory tract infections because theyre usually limited to the upper half of your respiratory systemthe nose, sinuses, upper throat, larynx, and pharynx. These infections dont, for example, include infections that affect your lungs, like pneumonia.
Upper respiratory tract infections are usually caused by viruses, like rhinovirus, coronavirus, or influenza, though rarely they are caused by bacteria. Bacteria that infect the upper respiratory tract are most often S. pyogenes , or sometimes H influenzae.
Due to the development and routine administration of the H. influenzae vaccine over the past 30 years, the incidence of this infection has dropped substantially.
Antibiotics may be prescribed in a few different situations:
How To Treat Sinus Infections Without Antibiotics
While sinus infections caused by viruses, allergies, or other non-bacterial factors may not require antibiotics, they still cause the same symptoms which make you feel sick.
Symptoms of a sinus infection include:
- Nasal congestion
- Pain or tenderness around the eyes, cheeks, or forehead
- Thick nasal or post-nasal drainage
Taking steps to alleviate your sinusitis symptoms is often the best treatment to lessen your discomfort.
Sinus infection treatment options include:
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Rest, especially the first few days, to help your body fight the infection
- Moisturize the air with a cool-mist vaporizer
- Elevate your head while sleeping to decrease post-nasal drip
- Take warm showers or baths, as steam can soothe your sore throat and loosen mucus
- Gargle with warm salt water for a sore throat
- Use saline nasal spray or nasal irrigation kit to alleviate congestion
- Use over-the-counter treatments, such as nasal drops and sprays or pseudoephedrine pills, as your doctor recommends them
What Not to Do for a Sinus Infection
You should always follow your doctors instructions when you are diagnosed with a sinus infection.
- Ask for antibiotics if your doctor feels they are unnecessary
- Take antibiotics that are prescribed for someone else
- Skip doses of your antibiotics or stop taking your antibiotics early when your doctor prescribes them
- Save antibiotics for the next time you get sick
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Antibiotics Are Not Always Needed
Most of the time, antibiotics are not indicated for use in treating the common cold or flu. A Cochrane report analyzing the available research into the use of antibiotics to treat colds, published in 2013, found that antibiotics do not work for the common cold, and side effects of antibiotics used for the common cold are common.
White, yellow, or even green snot during your cold doesnt necessarily mean its a bacterial infection, so it isnt a reason to ask for antibiotics.
Overuse and overprescription of antibiotics when they arent effective leads to the development of antibiotic-resistant infections. Not only is this a big problem for the entire world, but antibiotics can have nasty side effects for the person taking them.
If you go to the healthcare provider with a cold, theyll generally treat your symptoms, including suggesting you:
- Hydrate with water or electrolyte sports drinks
- Rest and let your body heal
- Suck on lozenges, hard candies, or ice pops to soothe a sore throat
- Try antihistamines or decongestants for symptom relief
- Use saline nose drops or sprays or a neti potstyle sinus rinse to help clear congestion
- Take pain relievers and fever reducers, including Tylenol and Advil , to address those symptoms
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.
This is called postnasal drip, and it may cause you to cough at night when youre lying down to sleep, and in the morning after getting up. It may also cause your voice to sound hoarse.
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Why You Don’t Need Antibiotics For Sinus Infections
If you’ve been knocked out by a sinus infectionstuffiness, face pain or pressure, and nasal dischargeit’s likely your doctor will recommend you wait it out for a week or so before resorting to an antibiotic. That’s because U.S. health experts recently called for doctors to think twice before prescribing antibiotics for sinus infections and other respiratory infections.
Sinus infections, or sinusitis, usually stem from a viral infection, not a bacterial oneand antibiotics dont work against viruses. Even when bacteria does cause your sinusitis, it usually clears up on its own without drugs. In a study of 166 adults with acute sinusitis published in the Feb. 15, 2012 issue of JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, amoxicillin proved no better than a placebo at reducing symptoms after three days.
Not only will taking antibiotics not help you feel better, but also they come with some unpleasant side effects that might leave you feeling worse. Studies suggest that nearly 25 percent of people who take antibiotics experience side effects, such as a rash or, more commonly, diarrhea and stomach problems. The drugs also contribute to the spread of resistant superbugs, which sicken at least 2 million people in the U.S. every year.
How To Get Rid Of Sinusitis
If you want to get rid of your sinusitis, you and your ENT will need to work together to discover the source of your sinus infections. For example, your sinusitis might always be precipitated by a cold, or you could have a deviated septum and sinusitis or sinusitis and sleep apnea. Regardless, finding the root cause behind your recurrent or prolonged sinusitis will help determine treatment.
Once the source of your sinus infections is found, you and your ENT will need to discuss treatment options. For those with recurrent sinus issues, one treatment, in particular, has proven itself effective again and again. That treatment option is balloon sinuplasty.
Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive, in-office procedure that takes less than 20 minutes to perform and requires little to no recovery time.
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How Long Should It Take For A Bad Sinus Infection To Go Away
Before we delve into what to do when your sinusitis wont go away, lets figure out whether you have a sinus infection in the first place. The symptoms shared between the common cold, chronic sinusitis, and chronic allergies, are similar making it rather difficult to deduce which culprit is causing your sinus issues.
One major differentiator, however, is time. A cold should go away within a week. If your cold lasts longer than 7-10 days, its likely that your cold has either turned into a bacterial sinus infection, or you actually had a sinus infection from the very beginning. Whatever the case, if your symptoms persist for more than a week, its best to see a doctor.
Once your doctor determines treatment, your sinus infection symptoms should begin to subside within a few days.
Killer Sinus Infection How To Tell If Yours Is Viral Or Bacterial
You know the symptoms: nasal congestion, facial pressure, pain, fever, too much mucus. Ugh. Its probably another sinus infection.
But is your infection caused by a virus or bacteria and does it really matter?
It does matter. Doctors treat viral and bacterial sinus infections differently. Here is what you need to know about both kinds of infection and how to treat them.
Viral or bacterial?
Most sinus infections are viral, and most are caused by the virus that causes the common cold. How can you tell, based on symptoms, whether your infection is viral or bacterial?
Normally, you cant.
Symptoms like bad breath, yellow or green mucus, fever and headache are not reliable signs of a bacterial infection. They can be present with viral infections, too. Even your doctor cant tell if your infection is viral or bacterial based solely on symptoms or an exam.
Instead, your doctor looks at symptom duration to determine the source of your infection. A viral sinus infection will usually start to improve after five to seven days. A bacterial sinus infection will often persist for seven to 10 days or longer, and may actually worsen after seven days.
4 steps you can take
Whether your sinus infection turns out to be viral or bacterial, you can help to ease your symptoms early on with supportive care:
Use saline spray two to three times per day in each nostril.
Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day.
Get plenty of rest.
What to do for chronic sinusitis
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When To Call Your Provider
Occasionally, viral infections can set the stage for more complicated bacterial infections. If you experience any of the following, call your healthcare provider:
- High fever
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Coughing up bloody mucus
- Coughing so hard that you throw up
- Feeling worse after 7-10 days of symptoms, especially if you have worsening headache, congestion, or sinus pain
- If you dont start to feel better after 10 days of symptoms
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How To Cope With A Viral Infection
While you want to avoid taking antibiotics to treat a viral sinus infection, youre not out of luck when it comes to getting relief. Most viral infections run their course and clear up within a few weeks. During that time, you can try using decongestants, pain relievers and saline nasal sprays to help ease any pain and pressure youre experiencing. Getting plenty of rest and drinking a lot of fluids can also help you feel better.
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The Right Way To Treat A Sinus Infection
5 min Read Time
Your head is throbbing, especially around your eyes. You cant stop coughing, and for some reason, your breath is terrible. Blowing your nose is a mess.
Bad news: You could have a sinus infection. Most frequently triggered by the common cold, over 30 million American adults are diagnosed with sinusitis yearly.
So, what exactly are sinus infections? How can you tell if you have one? And holy cow how can you feel better as quickly as possible?
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Sinus Infection Treatment Timeline With Antibiotics
Our sinuses are hard to reach, so it can be two to three days before antibiotic treatment begins to take effect.
It is critical to continue the whole course of antibiotics, even if you start to feel better. If you dont finish the whole course, your body could begin to build a resistance to those antibiotics. This makes future treatment more difficult.
Sometimes, patients experience negative side effects while taking antibiotics. If you experience rash, hives or have difficulty breathing while taking antibiotics, call your doctor immediately. You may be experiencing an allergic reaction. In older adults, some types of antibiotics may cause inflammation in tendons.
In addition to clearing your sinuses of infection, antibiotics also work in other parts of your body, particularly the gut. This could cause diarrhea, so you may want to take a probiotic as well.
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Will Allergy Shots Help
Your doctor may call this treatment âimmunotherapy.â HereÃ¢s how it works: TheyÃ¢ll put a little bit of the allergy trigger into your body. Over time you get used to the substance and donÃ¢t react to it anymore.
Shots work best if you have symptoms for longer than 3 months each year. They can help lower your need for meds to control your symptoms.
Also, the FDA has approved four under-the-tongue tablets that can be taken at home. The prescription tablets treat hay fever and work the same way as shots â the goal is to boost your tolerance of allergy triggers.