Sinus infections, also referred to as sinusitis, usually occur after a common cold swells the mucus membranes which traps mucus and air behind the sinuses. The changing pressure allows (usually harmless) bacteria to slip into the sinuses, where it grows inside the mucus. Our physicians at eMedical Urgent Care after hours doctors office have provided some insight on sinus infections below:
What are the Sinuses?
Behind the bones of your face there are hollow spaces which are filled with air that lead to the nose cavity. This is known as the sinuses. Your sinuses have the same mucous membrane lining as your nose does. The membrane produces a slimy secretion (called mucus), which keeps the nasal passages moist. This mucus traps dirt particles and germs.
What is Sinusitis?
In medical English, the suffix “it is” means an “Inflammation.” Sinusitis is a swelling of and infection of the sinuses. Since the passageways from the sinuses to the nose are very narrow, swelling and mucus may block the passageways leading to painful pressure. They can be categorized as:
- Acute: Lasts 4 weeks or less
- Sub-acute: Lasts 4 to 12 weeks
- Chronic: Lasts more than 12 weeks and can continue for months or years
- Recurrent: Several acute attacks within a year
Causes of a Sinus Infection
Sinus infections are common all year round due to the increased pollution we continue to push into the air and our resistance to antibiotics. Most often it’s either allergens (such as pollen and mold) or viruses (such as the common cold) are to blame for swelling. When the swelling causes the passageway to close off, bacteria, viruses and even fungus can get trapped in the sinuses all leading to an infection.
Symptoms of a Sinus Infection
Symptoms of a sinus infection include:
- feeling pressure in your head
- a headache that is most painful when you first wake up in the morning or when you bend your head forward
- pain around your eyes and eye lids
- earaches or neck pain
- aching in the teeth, cheeks and upper jaw
- thick, green mucus and stuffy nose (loss of smell)
- cough, especially on the evenings
- fluid draining down the back of your throat (postnasal drainage)
- sore throat
- dizziness (the inner ear is affected causing a person to lose equilibrium and become off-balanced)
You want your nose to run. Try treatments like sipping on hot tea, taking a hot, steamy shower, add some spicy mustard to lunch, or even watch the Notebook for a good cry…and relief. You can also try a nasal irrigation like a netipot to rinse the nasal passages, warm compress and sleeping with your head raised. In addition, decongestants will also help to relive pressure, and help open up the airways.
The more that your mucus stays thick, the more pain and pressure you’ll create, so remember to avoid dairy products which will exasperate the symptoms.
When Should I see a Doctor?
The good news is that sinus infections are not contagious. Although, a true sinus infection, if left untreated, can lead to other infections around the eyes and/or teeth or an upper respiratory infection. When over the counter relief prove to be ineffective and pain and stuffiness persist, seek medical attention. If you have a fever, if the mucus is thick or green, antibiotics are a necessary treatment.
Treatment for Sinus Infections are available at eMedical. Our convenient hours are designed to fit your schedule. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.