Sinus infections, or sinusitis, is an inflammatory condition that causes a lot of irritating pain in the sinus area. It can be either a viral or bacterial infection. Many people who have experienced a sinus infection described it as an uncomfortable, annoying feeling within their nasal passages. While most sinus infections can go away on their own, there are some cases of them becoming serious. Here are some warning signs that you must take note of.
Is it a Cold or a Bacterial Sinus Infection?
A good way to identify a sinus infection becoming serious is finding out what type of sinus infection you have. A sinus infection could be viral or bacterial. Swabbing inside of the nose and growing culture is recommended to test which type it is. Viral sinus infections can normally be treated with liquids, rest, and an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen. However, bacterial infections are considered to be more lingering and will need to be treated by your doctor.
Chronic Sinusitis and the Symptoms
Chronic sinusitis is a type of sinusitis that usually lasts longer than 12 weeks. People with allergies and other immune problems such as asthma are the most at risk of having chronic sinusitis. Treatment for this condition depends on the underlying cause. Chronic sinusitis symptoms are usually the same as acute sinusitis, which usually occurs due to the common cold. Some of these symptoms include:
- Pain and pressure above the eyes, sides of the nose and the cheeks
- Pain in the throat
- Mucus draining from the nose
- Feeling congested
- Frequent sneezing
Doctors used to think that if acute sinusitis went untreated, it would become chronic. Today, they are not so sure if this is still the case.
Understanding the Complications of a Serious Sinus Infection
These situations are very rare, but some people have experienced health complications associated with a serious sinus infection. Some of these complications have involved sinus infections spreading to the eyes and even the brain. Infection spreading to the eyes is the most common complication. This could cause redness, swelling, and even blindness in a severe state called cavernous sinus thrombosis. Sinus infections can also spread to the rear center of one's head causing life-threatening ailments such as brain abscess. When this happens, it is best to see your doctor immediately for additional treatment options. Some of these options include:
- These are normally to ease the patient's discomfort level in the nasal area. Most doctors like to prescribe antibiotics like amoxicillin with potassium clavulanate.
- Nasal Corticosteroids
- Steroid drugs are great for reducing inflammation and healing the body. However, because of their side effects, it may be good to consult a doctor before taking these.
- Nasal Irrigation
- Saline sprays that can flush sinuses with water are also good for clearing out infections.
- Sinus Surgery
- There are many reasons for needing sinus surgery such as recurring sinus infections, obstruction of the airway, chronic sinusitis, sinus tumors or polyps, and structural abnormalities of the nose or sinuses.
Ready To See a Doctor About Your Sinus Infection?
Being aware of complications associated with a sinus infection, symptoms of chronic sinusitis, and identifying the type of infection you have are vital to knowing the serious signs of a sinus infection. If you've been experiencing an infection that will not let up, please contact one of our ENT Doctors by phone or via their website to make an appointment.