A sinus infection or sinusitis is a common condition that develops once the sinuses and nasal passages become swollen.
The sinuses are miniature-sized air pockets that are situated behind the nose, forehead, eyes and cheekbones. They produce mucus which provides protection to the body by trapping germs. Oftentimes, allergens and bacteria can cause excessive mucus production that blocks the openings of the sinuses.
The buildup of mucus will promote the growth of germs and bacteria in the sinus cavity, resulting to a viral or bacterial infection. Majority of sinus infections are viral and can go away in 1-2 weeks without any treatment. In case the symptoms will not improve in a few days, you might have a bacterial infection and must consult your doctor.
Types of sinus infections
- Acute – only lasts for a short time. This is a viral infection caused by common cold resulting to symptoms that lasts for 1-2 weeks. If it is a bacterial infection, it can last up to 4 weeks.
- Sub-acute – the symptoms can last up to 3 months. This is often connected to seasonal allergies and bacterial infections.
- Chronic – the symptoms can last more than 3 months but are considered less severe. This type of sinusitis is connected to persistent allergies or structural problems with the nasal cavity.
Symptoms of a sinus infection
- Diminished sense of smell
- Stuffy nose
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
Take note that it can be difficult when detecting a sinus infection among children. Parents must take note of the following signs that indicates an infection:
- Cold or symptoms of allergy that do not improve within 14 days
- High fever
- Cough that lasts more than 10 days
- Thick, dark-colored mucus from the nose from more than 72 hours
How to treat a sinus infection
A stuffy nose or congestion is a common symptom of a sinus infection. As a first aid measure to minimize the congestion of mucus and clear the sinuses, there are certain steps to perform.
- Apply a damp, warm cloth on the face and forehead several times a day
- Drink liquids for proper hydration and to thin out the mucus
- Use a humidifier in the bedroom to add moisture to the air
- Administer over-the-counter medications such as decongestants or nasal drops
- Turn on the shower and stay in the bedroom with the door closed in order to take in the steam
How to prevent sinus infections
Since sinus infections typically develop right after flu, cold or an allergic reaction, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and minimize the exposure to allergens and germs. There are certain ways to minimize your risk:
- Get flu vaccination yearly
- Always wash hands on a regular basis
- Eat healthy foods that includes vegetables and fruits
- Limit your exposure to chemicals, smoke, allergens and pollen
- Use antihistamines to treat colds and allergens.