Sinus Problems

Sinus Problems

Acute bacterial sinusitis (commonly called a “sinus infection”) is an infection of the sinus cavities caused by bacteria. It’s usually preceded by a cold, allergy attack or irritation by environmental pollutants. It’s estimated that 37 million people are afflicted with sinusitis each year. This number may be higher since the symptoms of bacterial sinusitis often mimic those of colds or allergies, and many people never see a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment with an antibiotic.

Bacterial sinusitis is different from a cold or allergy in that it requires a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment with an antibiotic in order to cure the infection and prevent future problems.

A cold or allergy attack will cause your sinuses to become inflamed and unable to drain, leading to congestion and infection. Your doctor’s method of treatment may include a sinus x-ray. A sample of your nasal discharge may also be taken to be tested for bacteria.

Sinus infections that that occur frequently or last three months or more may be chronic sinusitis. Symptoms may be less severe than those of acute sinusitis, and irreversible changes can occur which may require surgery to repair.

If you have a fungi allergy, it can also cause sinusitis. This is more likely to be chronic sinusitis than an acute infection. The lists below can help you determine what type of illness you may have, although diagnosis must always be done by a physician to be certain the right treatment is used to cure it.

Cold Symptoms
If you suffer from three or more of the following, you should see your doctor. Cold signs and symptoms include:

  • Facial Pressure / Pain (sometimes)
  • Duration of Illness is Under 10 Days
  • Nasal Discharge
  • Fever (sometimes)
  • Headache (sometimes)
  • Coughing
  • Nasal Congestion
  • Sneezing

Allergy Symptoms
If you suffer from three or more of the following, you should see your doctor. Allergy signs and symptoms include:

  • Facial Pressure/Pain (sometimes)
  • Duration of Illness Varies (due to length of exposure to allergen(s), severity of the reaction, etc.)
  • Nasal Discharge
  • Headache (sometimes)
  • Coughing (sometimes)
  • Nasal Congestion (sometimes)
  • Sneezing (sometimes)

Sinusitis Symptoms
If you suffer from three or more of the following, you should see your doctor. Sinusitis signs and symptoms include:

  • Facial Pressure/Pain
  • Duration of Illness is More Than (10-14) Days
  • Nasal Discharge
  • Fever (sometimes)
  • Headache (sometimes)
  • Pain in Upper Teeth (sometimes)
  • Bad Breath (sometimes)
  • Coughing (sometimes)
  • Nasal Congestion (sometimes)

Antibiotics for Treatment
Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic as well as a decongestant to relieve congestion. You should avoid extended use of non-prescription nasal sprays or drops while you’re sick – as some can be addicting and/or irritating to your nose and sinuses when used longer than directed. Instead, it’s better to inhale steam or use saline nasal sprays to help relive sinus discomfort.

If you tend to have recurring sinusitis that requires antibiotic treatment, there is some concern about developing a resistance to this type of medication. Antibiotic resistance occurs when infection-causing bacteria are immune to the effects of certain antibiotics. You can help prevent this by taking all the medication exactly as your doctors instructs, even if symptoms are gone before the medication runs out. Failure of therapy occurs most often due to the use of inappropriate antibiotics or the right antibiotics for too short of a treatment period.

Sinus Surgery
Surgery should be considered only after all medical treatment has failed or when there’s a nasal obstruction that can’t be corrected with medication. Your doctor will talk with you about the surgery best suited for you and your needs. Certain types of sinus disease can best me treated with functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS). Using an endoscope, the surgeon can look directly into the nose while, at the same time, removing diseased tissue, polyps and clearing the narrow channels between the sinuses.

Make sure you understand your surgery and have realistic expectations for results, recovery and post-operative care before going into the procedure. Good results require not only expert surgical techniques, but also a cooperative effort between the patient and physician throughout the healing process.

Preventing Sinusitis
To avoid sinusitis during a cold or allergy attack, keep your sinuses clear:

  • Use an Oral Decongestant or Short Course of Nasal Spray Decongestant
  • Gently blow your nose (blocking one nostril while blowing through the other)
  • Drink Plenty of Fluids to Keep Nasal Discharge Thin
  • Avoid Air Travel (use nasal spray decongestant before take-off to prevent blockage)
  • Avoid Contact with Things that Trigger Allergy Attacks

Allergy Testing
Allergy testing, which can be done using several different methods, is done in a doctor’s office and can help pinpoint the exact allergens to which you’re allergic. Then, appropriate allergy treatments can be used to increase your tolerance of allergy-causing substances. Daily preventative allergy medications may be prescribed and/or allergy shots can be used.

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EN&T Associates

500 Donnally Street, Suite 200
Charleston, WV 25301
(304) 340-2200

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