Tis the season where germs seem to be running rampant wreaking all sorts of havoc. There is one common complaint that can be attributed to this fact…..the dreaded sinus infection. Sinusitis is the medical term for this condition and can be defined as inflammation of the sinus cavity or cavities. This allows the once healthy, air-filled spaces to clog and fill with fluid which makes the perfect breeding ground for bugs. Why does this happen, how do you know if you have one and what can you do? Let’s answer those separately.
Why do sinus infections happen?
One of the main culprits is sinus blockage. Swelling can happen from allergies, polyps (tissue overgrowth), deviated septum (middle cartilage in the nose is crooked), and even from simple exposure to offending pathogens. Environmental exposures such as smoke can also cause the delicate tissue in the nose to swell causing obstruction.
Do I have one?
There are many common complaints that surround the diagnosis of sinusitis. Face pain (especially in the cheeks or between the eyes), nasal drainage and/or congestion, fevers, sour taste in the mouth, feeling very tired and pain in the upper teeth are all the usual suspects.
What do I do?
It is hard to determine if the sinus infection is caused by a virus or bacteria and whether or not you need antibiotics. A good rule of thumb is if your symptoms have lasted for at least 10 days OR they worsened after previously getting better, it’s time to be seen by a provider.
If you have recurrent sinus infections or continuous feelings of facial fullness or pressure it would be a good idea to get checked out. The doctors here at West River Ear, Nose, & throat will work with you to help identify, manage, and treat the cause. Call to schedule your appointment today!
-JaNell Rubelt, CNP