How to Treat a Sinus Infection That Won’t Go Away
Published January 18, 2021
Once in a while, we go down with an illness for some time before eventually getting better not long after. You can thank our immune system for that. However, other conditions may stick around more than we’d like. Not only can this be incredibly annoying, but there comes the point when it becomes rather concerning. Sinus infections (sinusitis) pose a problem to people of all ages across the world. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) states that around 31 million Americans suffer from sinus infections at any given time. If you’ve been experiencing a sinus infection that just won’t go away, there’s a high possibility it could be a chronic one. In this article, we examine chronic sinus infections, their symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
What is a sinus infection?
Our sinuses are a series of hollow cavities found all over our skull. Why we have them remains a mystery, but experts say it helps with lightening our heads and keeping our respiratory system free of various irritants. Furthermore, the mucous membranes that line the sinuses help humidify the air we breathe and produce mucus to moisturize the inside of your nose. When healthy, they’re filled with air, making breathing a breeze.
But like most parts of the body, they can get impaired. When an infection, either bacterial or viral, comes around, trouble happens. Instead of being hollow and filled with air, the sinuses become inflamed. Specifically, the lining will start puffing up, becoming swollen and blocked. Sinusitis throws off the normal mucus drainage, causing congestion and a heavy feeling in your head.
Causes of sinus infections
Different causes and factors come together to cause sinus infections. People who have allergies and asthma are at a greater risk of contracting sinus infections, both acute and chronic. Other external factors, such as smoking and environmental factors, may also play a role in weakening your immune system and aggravating your symptoms. Speaking of weakened immune systems, immunocompromised patients are even more sensitive to various pathogens and will come down with an infection that much quicker.
You will notice that sinusitis symptoms are extremely similar to those of a common cold. Often, a bad cold is mistaken for a sinus infection and vice-versa. However, unlike a cold, a sinus infection can be caused by bacteria. Here are some of the symptoms, according to the CDC:
- Runny nose
- Stuffy nose
- Facial pain or pressure
- Mucus dripping down the throat (postnasal drip)
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
When is sinus infection chronic?
The common cold typically lasts up to 7-10 days. When it exceeds that but does not reach 8 weeks, that is an acute sinus infection. However, if at least three of the symptoms above are present and they last for more than 3 months. Before it reaches that point, you should already seek medical advice from a licensed physician to get the necessary medical intervention and medication. We advise seeing an expert if your symptoms last for more than 10 days.
How to treat a chronic sinus infection?
Now, we’ve arrived at the main event – the treatment. In treating sinus infections, there isn’t one universal solution for all cases. What works for one may not exactly be effective for another. Typically, physicians will assess your symptoms and prescribe you some medication accordingly. The best way to treat sinus infections is by targeting the underlying condition causing them. Here are some treatment options you might want to try:
Irrigating your nasal passages with a saline solution helps moisturize them while flushing out dried up mucus that could be contributing to congestion. Furthermore, it also curbs postnasal drip and manages inflammation. Overall, this home remedy gives patients relief from congestion, albeit momentary in some cases.
Steroid Nasal Sprays
Most steroid nasal sprays are available over-the-counter (OTC) and typically are one of the first medications prescribed to patients. How these sprays work is that they decrease inflammation, alleviating some congestion in the nasal passages.
Corticosteroids often called steroids, are a type of anti-inflammatory drug. They’re typically taken orally or by injections and provide tons of relief for inflammation. This helps make nasal drainage much smoother and relieving sinus or facial pressure.
For bacterial sinus infections, antibiotics are the primary solution. They’re typically taken as a course, lasting anywhere between 3 to 28 days, depending on the kind of antibiotic. However, chronic antibiotic use can result in resistance to it, along with other unwanted side effects.
A course of antihistamines might also do you well if the cause of your sinus infection is allergies.
If the intervention methods we listed above prove ineffective, you might need stronger treatment. More severe cases will require more drastic treatments, as in surgery. If you qualify under the following conditions, you may need corrective surgery to treat your chronic sinus infection.
- A CT scan reveals complete blockage of one or more of the sinus pairings.
- A severely deviated septum is determined to be the cause of your chronic sinus infection.
- Allergic fungal sinusitis
We released an earlier article talking about the common kinds of sinus surgeries to treat your condition.
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About The Author
Judy Ponio is a professional writer based in the Philippines. Her commitment to communicating factual content in when writing is unmatched. She works hard to cross check reputable sources to ensure her work uses accurate facts.