It’s cold season again. With cold season comes the complications that a cold often spirals into: such as bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, and pneumonia. In fact, the most common reason that people scramble to find urgent care locations in their area are complications due to colds. Over 60% of visits to urgent care locations are due to upper respiratory infections as a result of a cold. Cold-induced sinus infections, or sinusitis, alone affect 37 million Americans every year.
Even though sinus infections are extremely common, they are often misunderstood and misdiagnosed. Before you make a mad dash for the urgent care centers in your town, here is what you should know about sinusitis:
What exactly is sinusitis?
The sinuses are small cavities just below the eyes that are connected to the nasal passage and create mucus that push allergens or toxins out of your system.
When a person has a cold, the tissue in their sinuses might become inflamed, and even become blocked entirely. The pressure of the inflammation sometimes leads to an infection that causes sharp pain in the cheeks, ears and even teeth. Other symptoms of a sinus infection include thick, bright green mucus, and terrible congestion. Sometimes that congestion leads to difficulties breathing, which leads to the 60% of visits that urgent care locations accommodate.
What can I do to treat my sinusitis?
Although sinus infections can lead to a lot of pain and discomfort, with a good diagnosis, they are treatable. Often, people try to treat the symptoms — such as taking decongestants for the stuffiness — without addressing the underlying problem that is causing the discomfort to begin with. If you believe you have a sinus infection, your treatment will probably include the combination of both medical care and self care:
- Antibiotics. If your sinusitis is the result of a bacterial infection, a round of antibiotics should have you feeling better within 48 hours. Even if you feel fine immediately, you should finish your entire prescription to ensure the infection is entirely removed from your sinuses, and to prevent your body from developing an antibiotic resistance.
Unfortunately, if your sinus infection as a result of a virus, antibiotics will not help remove the infection. You best course of action is to support your immune system to help it heal itself.
- Painkillers. The horrible facial pressure and sinus headaches associated with sinusitis can usually be treated with over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Of course, only use over-the-counter painkillers as directed on the box or by your medical provider.
- Irrigation. Sometimes, using a saline irrigation will help remove congestion and buildup in your sinus passages, which allows your body to fight off the infection itself. You can find aerosol saline sprays in the over-the-counter at your local pharmacy.
You also may find reusable sinus irrigation pots that you fill with water to irrigate your sinuses yourself. It is essential to only use distilled or sterilized water with these. Any pollutants in the water can aggravate your sinus infection potentially introduce toxins into your body.
- Steroids. If your sinuses are severely swollen and have trouble healing, your doctor may prescribe you a steroid inhaler. This brings down the swelling in the sinus membranes so that it can drain and the infection can heal.
How do you treat your sinusitis? Do you have any tips we didn’t mention? Please share them below. Continue your research here.