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Also called sinusitis, a sinus infection is an inflammation of the sinuses that affects 31 million people in the US alone. It can sometimes be mistaken for other sinus-related conditions that may require different treatment.
What causes sinus infections?
In healthy nasal passages, the sinuses are filled with air within the cheeks, eyebrows and behind the nose. They can become blocked and fill with fluid, however, leading to an infection. This might be caused by a few different conditions:
There are a few different types of sinus infections:
Not a cold or a flu
In many cases, people confuse a bad cold or flu with a sinus infection. They have many of the same symptoms, but sinus infections are more commonly caused by a specific bacterial infection and require specific antibiotic drugs for treatment. Sinus infections may also be confused with rhinitis, which refers to inflamed or irritated nasal passages. If you’re unsure which condition you have, see your doctor or allergist for diagnosis.
Symptoms of a sinus infection may include the following:
For acute sinus infections, you’ll likely be recommended a decongestant, saline nasal washes and possibly antibiotics. Never take an over-the-counter decongestant for more than three days, as this can actually increase your congestion. Antibiotic treatments usually last 10 to 14 days.
If symptoms don’t disappear after this treatment, consider warm, moist air to help open nasal passages. You may also try saline nose drops and warm compresses for the nose. If symptoms persist, further treatment options may include:
If you are experiencing symptoms of a sinus infection, don’t hesitate to call your doctor.
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“Sinus Infection.” American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. http://acaai.org/allergies/types/sinus-infection
“What Is Sinusitis?” WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/allergies/sinusitis-and-sinus-infection#1
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.