While you can get a sinus infection any time of year, you’re far more likely to get one in the winter months. This is because the combination of cold, dry air and viral infections are most prevalent during this time.
James Palmer, Director of Rhinology at Penn Medicine, explained, “There’s an entire world inside your nose… It’s a window to your entire body. Sinuses are a reflection of the overall health of the patient a lot of times.”
What Causes Sinus Infections?
The sinuses are hollow cavities in the skull that run from the forehead to under the cheekbones. Their purpose is to warm, moisturize and filter air before it enters our lungs; they also provide cushion for your eyes and brain in case of head trauma.
The sinuses produce over a quart of mucus per day, which traps bacteria and drains through the throat. Sometimes, however, bacteria becomes trapped in the sinuses and cannot drain – this is especially common after you’ve had a cold or the flu – and a sinus infection is the result.
Types of Sinus Infections
There are three types of sinus infection: acute, recurrent and chronic.
- Acute sinusitis is the term for a sinus infection that lasts one or two months.
- Recurrent sinusitis describes frequent, short-term sinus problems.
- Chronic sinusitis is an infection that persists 12 weeks or longer.
Signs & Symptoms of a Sinus Infection
Sinus infections usually occur after a viral infection, like the cold. Many people with sinus infections report feeling better within a few days, after their cold clears up, then experiencing a double worsening of symptoms as the sinus infection takes hold.
Common symptoms of a sinus infection include pain and pressure in the sinuses, ear fullness, postnasal drip, thick mucus, sore throat and coughing.
If you experience total loss of smell, see a doctor right away, as this could indicate a more serious problem, like a tumor.
Who Is Most Likely to Get a Sinus Infection?
People who have a deviated septum are more likely to have frequent sinus infections, since it can obstruct mucus flow. People with nasal polyps can have the same problem. Air quality can also be a factor, and smokers are at a higher risk than non-smokers for developing sinus infections.
To learn more about preventing or treating sinus infections, contact the experts at Pinnacle ENT Associates today!
Learn More About Sinus Issues
- Seasonal Allergies or Sinusitis? How to Tell the Difference
- Beat the Sinus Blues with Balloon Sinuplasty
- When to See an ENT ASAP
Kennett Square, PA ENT Office Locations
689 Unionville Road
Kennett Square, PA 19348