Sinusitis, or sinus infection, is a very common medical condition often confused with a cold or flu. Sinusitis as a condition refers to the swelling of the underlying tissue lining found in the sinuses. Healthy sinuses are like small sacs filled with air; however, when these get clogged with germs and fluids, they may initiate an infection. If you have never experienced a sinus attack, then you would not know what this pain would feel like. A sinus attack feels like a sharp pain around the nose and the forehead area. It is normally caused by a virus and rarely triggered by a bacterial or fungal infection. Other conditions resulting in sinusitis include allergic reactions, tooth infections, or a deviated septum.
There are two types of sinusitis; acute sinusitis and chronic sinusitis. While acute sinusitis is a short-term condition that lasts only for a few days, chronic sinus infections last longer than eight weeks and can recur. Acute infections are meant to last for a short time and are often caused by cold or allergies. The symptoms of both the acute and chronic forms of sinusitis infection may overlap with each other. Hence, if you suffer from a sinus infection, it is important to consult a doctor to identify which type it is and to learn about the cause of the illness and the right course of treatment.
What Are the Symptoms of Sinusitis Infection?
Here are some of the main symptoms associated with sinusitis:
1. Experiencing Pain During Severe Sinusitis
Pain is one of the biggest symptoms of sinusitis. It is what differentiates a normal cold from sinusitis. There are various sinus points located in and around our face which can hurt severely during a sinus infection. Swelling in the tissue linings of the sinuses could cause aches as the mucus pressurizes these points. The pain could be felt in areas around the forehead, nose, teeth, or between the eyes. A headache with sinusitis can be quite severe, more than the general heaviness of the head felt during a cold or a cough.
2. A Thick Discharge
During a sinusitis infection, one may feel the need to get rid of the thick greenish-yellow mucus discharge that clogs the sinus cavities. The discharge is secreted from the sinuses that are infected and drained into the nasal passages eventually. Sometimes this discharge can also trickle down the back of the throat which is a condition known as postnasal drip. This leads to a cough, especially at night when one is lying down. It can also result in a cough in the early morning just after waking up. In some cases, a sinus infection can also lead to hoarseness of the voice.
3. Congestion of Nasal Passages
A typical sinusitis infection causes intense congestion of the nasal passages. This congestion also restricts the process of respiration causing you to breathe from your mouth instead of the nose. The infection leads to inflammation of sinuses and the nose causes breathing discomfort. The nasal congestion could also lead to loss of smell or taste until the congestion subsides. The voice may also sound hoarse and stuffy due to the congestion.
4. Severe Headache
The congestion due to the infection around the sinus cavities and the nose could give you a severe headache. The ache could be so much so that it could even cause pain in other areas of the face like the ears, jaw, cheeks, and teeth. A headache resulting from a sinusitis could last all day long but can also worsen in the morning and at night. A headache could even change in intensity with sudden changes in the temperature.
5. Heavy Cough
The mucus discharge that trickles from the nasal passages to the back of the throat causes irritation in the lining of the throat, eventually leading to a heavy cough. A cough can be persistent for a long period or be erratic, meaning it may worsen at certain periods of time. If your cough occurs while you are trying to sleep, raising the head at night could help in easing this symptom.
6. Soreness of the Throat
The trickling of the nasal discharge, which is known as the postnasal drip, can cause throat pain with severe itching. The soreness of the throat can last for as long as the infection is present, and the mucus could lead to severe throat irritation and inflammation, causing pain and hoarseness of the voice.
When Does Sinusitis Need Medical Intervention?
If you are suffering from a fever or have had severe sinusitis for a long time and it seems to be recurring, then you should see a doctor. If you are suffering from these symptoms, this could indicate that over-the-counter drugs and home remedies may not work.
Although fever is not a common symptom associated with sinusitis, it is always a possibility due to the infection. Hence, the infection may need specific treatment before having the sinusitis treated, which could be the secondary medical condition.
Treating a Sinus Infection
If you have sinusitis, it is always important to treat the underlying condition which is causing the sinusitis infection. In many cases, a nasal decongestant like phenylephrine or oxymetazoline could help in improving the symptoms of a sinus infection but it works only for a short time. Continued use of these sprays is also not advised as it could lead to worsening or recurring of the nasal congestion. Hence, keep in mind that treating your infection with a spray is not a long-term solution and it could only worsen your symptoms.
There are a number of over-the-counter medicines that have antihistamines and decongestants as their main ingredients. These can be very useful in treating sinusitis infections. Some of these medicines include Zyrtec, Allegra, and Claritin. Just like the nasal sprays, nasal decongestants used over a long period can cause a recurrence of the infection and, thus, must be only used for short-term relief.
There are several mixtures and home remedies that could be helpful in treating sinusitis infection. Managing the condition using home remedies is the best way to treat this infection. Using home remedies also reduces the risk of side effects which can often occur when using stronger medications. A popular home remedy used to bring relief from a sinusitis infection is a mixture of baking soda and saline water. This helps in clearing the mucus clogs in the sinus pores and helps in getting rid of the allergens that could be triggering the infection.
Antibiotics like amoxicillin are used only for chronic sinusitis infections. These antibiotics must be taken only when recommended by the doctor. Side effects could occur from these antibiotics and, hence, a doctor's advice must certainly be sought before starting the course of antibiotics.