As the leaves fall from the trees and the waxed vestiges of green dissipate from the foliage of the city, it becomes apparent that Winter is on its way. With a change in weather and the transition to a colder season comes the possibility of picking up more illnesses as you go about your daily life. This can include a cold, flu, strep throat, or even the dreaded sinus infection. Sinus infections can affect pretty much anybody at any time for any reason. With that in mind, here are five things you should know about handling sinus infections this upcoming cold season.
What Causes A Sinus Infection
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a sinus infection is caused predominantly by fluid pooling up in your nasal cavities, which in turn invites pesky bacteria to build up. Viruses can also be a chief cause of a sinus infection. The result is inflammation, swelling, and various other nasty symptoms that make you miserable throughout the day. Sinus infections have a number of different additional causes too. Sometimes, they can be brought on by a very bad cold you've been dealing with for the past few weeks. Occasionally excessive allergies and our genes in the air can wreak havoc on the sinuses and cause build up which will in turn generate a sinus infection. A history of smoking, cystic fibrosis, or recent dental infection might also spur one on. In addition to bacteria and viruses, sometimes even a fungus or contact with mold can cause an infection.
Spotting A Sinus Infection
You're undoubtedly already quite familiar with the usual symptoms of a sinus infection. For most sinus infections, there are tell tale signs like swollen sinuses, runny nose, headache, fever, postnasal drip, and discomfort. If you're experiencing these symptoms for a few days, it's a good idea to consult a doctor. You might have a sinus infection. If your doctor suspects you have chronic sinusitis, they'll likely perform allergy tests, imaging tests, take samples of your sinus cultures, in addition to inspecting them.
One of the keys to getting over a sinus infection is understanding how long they can last. When sinusitis hits, the typical timeframe is usually only a week or two. This is known as acute sinusitis. Sinus infections that last longer, or at least up to three months, are known as subacute infections. Sinus infections lasting longer than that or that seem to be ongoing and interminable are known as chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis can generate a lot of misery and be difficult to treat, while also lasting a long time. Usually, though, most sinus infections will start to resolve after approximately ten days.
Are They Contagious?
One thing that might cross your mind when it comes to dealing with or treating sinus infections is determining whether or not your infection is contagious. consider that there are typically two different types of sinus infections – we don't mean the severity levels that fall under the acute (one to two weeks), subacute (up to three months), and chronic (more than three months) levels – we actually mean that there are bacterial and viral sinus infections. What this refers to is the cause of the infection itself. Viruses have a tendency to cause the majority of sinus infections. If you're asking yourself "are viral sinus infections contagious?" then you're not alone. It's a common question. If your infection is accompanied by a cold or flu, it's probably vital and therefore contagious. If it's long-lasting and you have a severe fever, it's more than likely bacterial (chronic sinusitis falls into this category).
After consulting with a doctor about your sinus infection, they'll devise a treatment plan and guide you toward medications if necessary. Treating a sinus infection is pretty easy. Some home remedies like drinking fluids, performing nasal irrigation, and using steam baths can definitely help. For times when medication might be required, doctors will prescribe or recommend things like:
- Over the counter medications (Mucinex, Sudafed, Aspirin, and the like)
- Saline solution
- Nasal Irrigation
- Drinking fluids
- Using steam
- Using a humidifier
- Nasal decongestants
- Antibiotics (for bacterial infection)
- Antifungal treatment
- Oral corticosteroids
- Immunotherapy (like allergy shots:
- Nasal steroids
- Surgery (for chronic sinusitis)
In addition to treatment, there are very few preventive measures one can take to avoid getting a sinus infection in the first place. These include regularly washing your hands – for at least 20 seconds with soap and water – and practicing good hygiene habits. Avoiding dry environments, keeping your home's humidity at comfortable levels, and using nasal spray can all help aid in preventing sinus infections.Updated Date: 14 October 2021, 15:16