A sinus infection, otherwise known as sinusitis, can leave you feeling pretty miserable. The sinuses are pockets in the forehead and face that produce normal mucus to keep you healthy, as well as moisten the air you breathe. When the sinuses get inflamed, they’re not able to perform their usual functions, and this sometimes results in infection.
There is a range of symptoms that someone with a sinus infection might exhibit. These include:
- a runny nose
- bad breath
- sore throat
- pressure or tenderness around eyes
Not everyone has the same symptoms, and these symptoms also vary in severity dependent upon the individual.
Often, sinus infections will improve on their own with time. To help alleviate symptoms, there are a number of measures you can take.
- Use nasal saline
- Apply warm heat
- Breathe in steam vapors from the shower
- Drink lots of fluids
- Flush out sinuses
- Use decongestants as needed
- Use over-the-counter painkillers as needed
- Drink tea
- Eat spicy foods
- Avoid cigarettes
When to See a Doctor
If your sinus infection isn’t going away with home remedies, you may need to see a doctor. If you have any of the symptoms below, call your doctor’s office for guidance.
Symptoms that don’t improve after seven to 10 days
- Green, yellow or bloody mucus
- A high fever
- A strong headache not improved by OTC painkillers
- Ear pain
- Stiff neck
- Severe neck pain
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Heaviness in the chest
- Vision changes, swelling or redness around eyes
- An allergic reaction to medication
- Chronic sinusitis
About 2 to 10 percent of sinus infections are bacterial, and these can be treated with antibiotics. A doctor may also want to perform allergy testing to see if that is what’s causing your sinusitis, especially if it’s chronic. If you do have allergies he or she may prescribe or recommend certain allergy medications. Inhaled steroids are sometimes used to reduce inflammation. Lastly, surgery may be an option, if you continue to have bouts of sinusitis. You may need a procedure that enlarges the sinus passages and removes blockages.
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