Sinus symptoms can be similar whether you have a cold, nasal allergies, or a sinus infection. Learning more about sinusitis from the Cleveland Clinic will help you distinguish it from the other conditions. Additional experts share tips for coping with the misery of an inflammatory sinus infection and avoiding subsequent dreaded bouts.
Understanding Acute Sinusitis
The sinuses in your head produce thin mucus that drains from the narrow channels connecting those cavities to your nose. Sinusitis occurs when the tissues lining your sinuses swell. Your sinuses contain air normally. But when fluid fills and blocks them, bacteria or viruses may grow, causing an infection. Around 37 million Americans develop bacterial sinus infections annually. About 1 billion experience one or more viral sinusitis episodes.
Blocked sinuses occur commonly with colds, allergic rhinitis (allergies triggering inflammation of your nasal lining), small nasal polyps or growths lining your nose, and deviated septum (a crooked wall between your right and left nostrils). Allergies like hay fever also may cause swelling with poor sinus drainage.
These conditions increase your sinusitis risk:
- A cold that causes nasal mucus membrane inflammation
- Drainage duct blockages
- Structural variations that narrow your drainage ducts
- Additional conditions that increase your infection chances
Acute sinusitis involves sudden and lingering cold-like symptoms including runny or stuffy nose with facial pain.
The main infectious sinusitis symptoms include:
- Swelling over your cheekbone area that causes sinus pain, pressure, and tenderness
- Congestion and cough
- Nasal stuffiness
- Thick yellow or green nasal discharge
- Lost senses of smell and taste
Additional sinus infection symptoms might include:
- Fever of 102 degrees or higher
- Ear pain
- Aching upper jaws and teeth
- Bad breath
A virus causes a cold, which is an upper respiratory infection in your nose and throat. Swollen sinuses may prevent mucus drainage. Cold symptoms include runny nose, nasal congestion, post-nasal drip down the back of your throat, cough, achiness, headache, fever, and fatigue. These symptoms tend to build up, peak, and disappear gradually. Colds last up to seven days typically.
Nasal allergy symptoms include itchy nose, sneezing, nasal blockages, clear and watery nasal secretions, and fatigue. Treatments include antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays.
Seeking Sinusitis Treatment
Sinusitis is a bothersome infection that may go away after seven to 10 days of suffering. If it lingers longer or worsens, you may have a bacterial rather than a viral infection. Your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic like Levaquin (Levofloxacin). Also save on many other prescription medications from Canada Drug Pharmacy.
Delaying sinusitis treatment can lead to unnecessary discomfort and pain. It may exacerbate concurrent health problems like asthma. Among rare cases, untreated sinus infections can lead to bone infections or meningitis.
Exploring Dietary Recommendations
Drinking plenty of fluids, particularly water, will loosen your mucus and encourage it to drain more easily. Fruit and vegetable juices are good choices. Or make a soothing herbal tea by boiling fennel, peppermint, and sage in water. Drink the strained liquid twice per day to help drain your nasal passages. Forego all caffeinated beverages because they can cause dehydration easily.
Pass up all beverages that have even a trace of alcohol. They promote swelling and irritation in mucus membranes. Increase good vitamin A sources such as carrots, leafy vegetables, tomatoes, and egg yolks. Skip sugary, fried, and starchy foods. Sweeten beverages and foods with honey, not sugar.
Getting adequate rest can be challenging when you’re having trouble breathing through your nose. Dr. Eric Cohen, M.D., advises that limiting potential allergens in your bedroom can help alleviate congestion and encourage sleep. That means making your bedroom a pet-free zone, washing your sheets and bedding regularly, and using an allergen-trapping air filter. Choosing a side-sleeping position will help minimize the uncomfortable sensation of post-nasal drip that can disrupt sleep if you lay on your back. You also may be less apt to have a sore throat in the morning.
General adjustments that promote enhanced sleep can be helpful when you’re sick. Exercise earlier in the day and maintain a healthy weight. Don’t smoke. Avoid big meals and caffeine before bed. Keeping a set bedtime will encourage you to fall asleep sooner. Maintain a comfortable room temperature overnight in a conducive environment so you can drift off quickly and stay asleep.
Vaccinations for the flu virus and bacterial pneumonia may decrease or prevent your likelihood of a sinus infection developing. Frequent hand washing can help you avoid germs that cause sinusitis. Eating well and exercising regularly will help augment your immune system’s ability to fight off infections.
Look into allergy testing to confirm or rule out a possible underlying cause if infectious sinusitis is a recurring problem. Allergy treatment may help you avoid secondary sinus infections. If you suffer from chronic lung conditions like asthma, keep up with your treatments and doctor’s appointments. Testing, diagnosis and treatment of other problems including nasal polyps, diseases, and tumors that obstruct your normal mucus flow might prevent repeated sinus infections.