CareNow® - November 20, 2017

Have you had cold-like symptoms that keep getting worse over the past few days? If this is the case, you (or your child) may have a sinus infection. There is never a good time to have a sinus infection, and it’s possible to develop one any time of the year. To determine if you’re suffering from a sinus infection, it’s important to know what it is first.

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What is a Sinus Infection?

Sinusitis, or a sinus infection, occurs when sinus tissue becomes inflamed or swollen. A cold, allergies, nasal polyps or a deviated septum can lead to sinusitis. Approximately 37 million Americans experience sinus infection symptoms at least once a year. In children, some of the most common factors that result in sinusitis are allergies, exposure to other children with the illness and smoke in the environment. Adults most commonly develop the condition from infections and smoking.

Known as “sinusitis” in the medical world, a sinus infection is an infection that is caused by viruses, bacteria, or fungus. The infection can progress and block your sinuses causing your head to hurt and your nose to drain.

Symptoms of a Sinus Infection 

If you’re suffering from a sinus infection, you may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Nasal stuffiness and discharge
  • Sinus headaches: includes pressure-like pain behind the eyes, tenderness of the face, and toothaches
  • Fever
  • Fatigue and general feeling of being ill
  • Sore throat and postnasal drip
  • Loss of smell/taste
  • Bad breath

Acute Sinusitis Versus Chronic Sinusitis

When dealing with a sinus infection, it’s important to know if you’re suffering from an acute sinus infection or a chronic one.

  • Acute Sinus Infection Symptoms

Acute sinusitis is described as an abrupt development of cold-like symptoms and facial pain that persists for up to 4 weeks. Sub-acute sinusitis is the same, except that the inflammation can last up to 8 weeks.

The primary symptoms are facial pain and pressure, thick nasal discharge, congestion, cough and loss of smell and/or taste. Secondary symptoms can include fever, fatigue, toothaches and bad breath.

You may be diagnosed with acute sinusitis if you have at least two of these sinus infection symptoms.

  • Chronic Sinus Infection Symptoms

Chronic sinusitis is characterized as a sinus infection that lasts longer than 8 weeks without relenting. People with this condition may experience the following symptoms for this length of time: facial congestion or a feeling of “fullness” in the head, nasal blockage, fever, discolored nasal discharge and pus in the nasal cavity.

Additional symptoms may include: headaches, fatigue, bad breath and toothaches.

You may be diagnosed with chronic sinusitis if you have at least two of these symptoms that last longer than 8 weeks.

There is also such a thing as recurrent sinusitis, which means the individual suffers from several sinus infections within a single year. Patients diagnosed with recurrent sinusitis experience the same symptoms as those with other types of the condition.

Seasonal Allergies Versus Sinus Infection

The symptoms of allergies and a sinus infection are quite similar, leaving many to wonder which they're suffering from. How long the symptoms last is a big differentiator between the two, but there are also a few other ways to determine the source behind your symptoms. Below are a few ways to tell if you have a sinus infection or seasonal allergies and what you can do to feel better.

Symptoms of seasonal allergies typically include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Headache
  • Stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Itchy eyes

Symptoms of a sinus infection include:

  • Sinus pressure behind the eyes and cheeks
  • Runny, stuffy nose lasting more than a week
  • A headache that continues to worsen
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Bad breathe
  • Drainage from your nose or down the back of your throat
  • Fatigue
  • A decrease in your sense of smell


Allergy symptoms will usually last as long as you are exposed to the allergen. If you are suffering from a sinus infection, it's a good idea to see a doctor who can prescribe a simple course of antibiotics to help clear up the infection. In some cases, an acute infection can turn into chronic sinusitis if left untreated. Using a mixture of distilled water and salt, a neti pot can also help to thin mucus and flush out sinuses.

Diagnosing A Sinus Infection

At CareNow®, we recommend coming in for an evaluation if you think you might have a sinus infection. Diagnosing a sinus infection early can prevent the worsening of condition. A CareNow doctor will examine your symptoms and determine the best treatment plan. If the doctor notices signs of swelling, congestion and infection, he or she will likely diagnose you with sinusitis.

Since most sinus infections are viral, treatment will be focused on symptom relief. The doctor will determine when antibiotics may be appropriate.

In some instances, your doctor may recommend you visit an ear, nose and throat doctor—also known as an ENT. An ENT can perform a nasal endoscopy that allows insight into your sinuses. With an endoscopy, the doctor will numb inside your nostrils and insert a thin, flexible device up your nose, allowing him or her a look into your sinuses.

CareNow® Can Help Treat Sinus Infection Symptoms

For temporary relief, apply a warm moist washcloth on your face several times a day. This should help relieve the pressure in your head. A doctor may prescribe a nasal spray to reduce the inflammation inside your nasal passages. If your doctor prescribes medication, it’s important to take it as prescribed and to follow the proper dosage instructions.

Acute sinusitis can take up to 4 weeks to treat, while chronic sinusitis is more difficult and therefore typically takes longer to treat. While acute sinusitis is typically treated with an antibiotic, chronic sinusitis may require multiple antibiotics, including a corticosteroid nasal spray that can reduce inflammation.

If you find yourself suffering from sinus infection symptoms, consider visiting your local CareNow. Be sure to check in online to avoid the waiting room!

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Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you.