According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29.4 million adults in the United States get diagnosed with sinus infections each year. That number doesn’t include children or adults who never get diagnosed.
Considering that more than 12 percent of the U.S. population gets diagnosed with sinus infections every year, it’s a good idea for you to learn about the condition and know when you should contact a doctor for help.
Symptoms of a Sinus Infection
Sinus infections happen when your nasal cavities get so swollen that they prevent mucus from draining properly. At times, bacterial infections can develop in the cavities. Some of the most common symptoms of a sinus infection include:
- Pain and swelling around your eyes, nose and forehead (the pain may become more intense when you bend over)
- Congestion that makes it difficult to breathe through your nose
- A thick discharge from your nose or throat
- Pressure in your ears
- Aching teeth or jaw
- Bad breath
Common Causes of Sinus Infections
Most sinus infections are caused by the common cold. Since the viral infection can cause your nasal cavities to swell, it prevents the normal flow of mucus. This situation can lead to a sinus infection.
Other causes of sinus infections include:
- Allergic reactions that affect your sinuses
- Medical conditions like cystic fibrosis or HIV that prevent your body from fighting infections
- Abnormalities in your nasal passage, such as a deviated septum or polyps
Preventing Sinus Infections
There are many things that you can do to help prevent sinus infections. You don’t even need to see a doctor for some of the most effective sinus infection preventions. Some of your best options include:
- Keeping your hands clean to lower your risk of getting the flu or common cold
- Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke
- Stay away from people who show symptoms of colds and other upper respiratory infections
- Using a humidifier to improve the quality of the air in your home
- Cleaning your humidifier regularly to stop bacteria from growing
- Stay up-to-date with your immunizations
Following these tips can’t guarantee that you won’t get a sinus infection, but they can lower your risk.
Sinus Infection Treatment Options
Like prevention techniques, you probably won’t need to see a doctor to treat your sinus infection. In most cases, sinus infections clear up on their own, although there are times when you need a doctor’s help to recover.
At-home remedies that relieve symptoms include:
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen
- Rinsing your nasal cavities with a neti pot or saline nasal spray
- Taking over-the-counter decongestants to improve the flow of mucus
- Using a nasal spray like Flonase that will reduce nasal inflammation
If your symptoms last longer than 10 days, then you should probably see a doctor to get prescription medications that will help you recover from your sinus infection. Your doctor may prescribe decongestants that you can’t get over the counter.
Most doctors try to avoid using antibiotics to treat sinus infections. Since the majority of sinus infections clear up without antibiotics, it makes sense for doctors to avoid the prescription. If your sinus infection lasts an unusually long time, though, your doctor may give you antibiotics. Make sure you take all of the prescribed pills to prevent your symptoms from returning.
If you have had a sinus infection for longer than a week, then you may want to make an appointment at Medical Offices of Manhattan to get advice from a doctor or nurse practitioner.