Sinus infections are a common condition that affects many Americans. Often, people pass off a stuffy nose as a cold, but when they persist for weeks, you may have a sinus infection. Sinus infections are typically caused by allergies, infection, or from irritation of the sinuses due to particulate or chemicals. There are two main categories of sinus infections, acute and chronic. An acute sinus infection only lasts for a short duration of time. While a chronic sinus infection can recur, or last for weeks.
There are many symptoms associated with sinus infections, and the symptoms can be intermittent, or symptoms could overlap one another. The signs and symptoms of a sinus infection often include:
• Puffy eyes
• Facial swelling
• Bad Breath
• Post nasal drip
• Sore throat
• Nasal discharge that is discolored (whitish or yellowish-greenish)
• Stuffy nose
• Coughing up phlegm
• Sense of taste or smell is “off”
• Facial tenderness or pain
• Pain or pressure in the sinuses
• Pain or pressure around the eyes or in the teeth and ears
To help avoid sinus infections from occurring, follow these helpful prevention tips:
1. Make sure you wash your hands often, year-round and more so during the allergy season. This will help prevent your sinuses from becoming infected or irritated by the bacteria found on your hands.
2. Avoid things that irritate your nose and sinuses. Chemicals, allergies, and other particulates can disturb and inflame your sinuses, so do your best to avoid exposure to any known irritants.
3. If you feel like your chronic sinus infections are from bad allergies, see your doctor. Your doctor can help you keep your allergies under control.
4. Remove allergens, relieve dryness and clear your sinuses by making a saline baking soda mixture. Take a ½ teaspoon of salt and baking soda and mix it into 1 cup of water. Use a neti pot or spray into your nose with a nasal sprayer.
If you have a sinus infection that persists longer than a week and is not responding to over-the-counter medications, consult your doctor. While some infections go away in time, persistent or severe cases may require antibiotics.