Sinus infections, also called sinusitis, occur when there is inflammation or swelling of the tissues lining the sinuses. While healthy sinuses are full of air, infected sinuses become blocked and collect fluid, which becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to infection. Sinus infections usually occur due to an allergy attack, the common cold, nasal polyps or a deviated septum.
Types of Sinusitis
There are two main types of sinus infection: acute and chronic. Acute sinus infections usually start with cold-like symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, mucus discharge and facial pain or pressure. This type of infection tends to run its course within two to four weeks. Chronic sinus infections have similar symptoms that may be less severe, but last much longer – 12 weeks or more.
There is another type of sinusitis, called subacute, which accounts for infections lasting between four and 12 weeks, but these are usually treated the same way as acute infections and are left to run their course.
Treatment for Sinus Infections
The treatment for your sinus infection depends on the type as well as the underlying cause, and only a physician can recommend the best treatment for you. However, there are many at-home treatments you can try to ease discomfort.
Having dry sinuses increases pressure and worsens headaches. Breathing in steam will moisten the sinus passages and airways, helping thin out mucus and reducing pressure. Take a hot shower or use a humidifier to find relief. Adding eucalyptus oil can also be helpful.
Saline rinses are common treatment options to relieve pressure and congestion. Saline spray helps increase moisture in the nose, but saline rinses using a Neti pot can really flush out the sinuses. You can purchase saline at the store or make your own using baking soda, distilled water and iodine-free salt.
Sleep helps the body heal by stimulating the brain to release hormones that encourage tissue growth. In addition, while you rest, the body produces more white blood cells, which are essential for attacking viruses and bacteria. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants near bedtime to ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
For more information about sinusitis treatment or to schedule an evaluation with an expert ENT physician, call Pinnacle ENT Associates today.