- Dr. Hicks
I believe I have a sinus infection, what should I do?
Sinus infections, or sinusitis, affects one in eight adults every year. In addition to common cold symptoms, facial pain or pressure is the hallmark of sinus infections. Sinus pain happens in the cheeks, forehead or around the eyes, and typically gets worse with bending over. You may also experience pain in the upper molars and loss of sense of smell. Like colds, the vast majority of sinus infections resolve on their own in 10 days or so with appropriate treatment at home. Home treatments are designed to thin out mucous and open up the passageways between your sinuses and your nose. Drink plenty of fluids and breathe in steam from the shower. Irrigate the nasal passages using a saline rinse with a neti-pot or an over the counter saline nasal spray. Open the passageways by using a decongestant to shrink the swollen mucous membranes. Herbal decongestants are helpful, both in steam and teas. The most effective pharmaceutical is oxymetazoline nasal spray (over the counter Afrin and other brands). But be careful – use it no more than twice a day and no more than 3 days in a row, or 6 doses total, then skip a day. Otherwise, you risk having rebound congestion. If symptoms persist more than 10 days, a bacterial infection may have come in on top of the viral infection and medical treatment may be needed. If you improve but then get worse again see an urgent care facility such as Yubadocs. Other signs the infection has spread beyond your sinuses are fever, severe headache, swelling or redness around the eyes, visual changes, pain with eye movement, stiff neck or an altered mental state.