Is Your Constant Nose-Blowing And Wiping Just A Cold Or Something Else?
You blow your nose, but nothing’s coming out and you still can’t breathe. Your head is pounding and you feel drained. Your symptoms might not be just another cold. You may be suffering from a sinus infection.
“Sinus infections overlap with a lot of other common conditions like headache, allergies and viral infections,” said David W. Clark, MD. “So, we define it based on four symptoms: facial pain and pressure, drainage coming out the nose or down the throat, nasal obstruction and diminished sense of smell.”
A sinus infection or “sinusitis” means your sinuses are swollen and inflamed because of an infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 31 million adults were diagnosed with sinusitis in 2009.
And for the millions of sinus infection sufferers every year, the old method of treatment—a regimen of antibiotics—may not be the best solution.
A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a 10-day course of Amoxicillin did not reduce symptoms at day 3 of treatment.
Dr. Clark said that antibiotics don’t seem to help patients who suffer from chronic sinus infections. But for those who have an acute sinus infection (abrupt onset of symptoms with a short duration), a course of a medication like Amoxicillin can be effective.
What about those who are suffering from chronic sinus infections? How can they get relief?
“For the first seven to 10 days of a sinus infection, 90 percent of those symptoms are going to be due to a virus,” Dr. Clark said. “So, you don’t really need antibiotics for those types of infections because [the medication] won’t treat a viral infection.”
But if you’re still feeling miserable, the rhinologist suggests an oral decongestant like Sudafed, if you don’t have any blood pressure issues.
“In the evening, taking an old school Benadryl is really good because not only does it help kind of stop the drainage at night, but it also helps you get a good night’s sleep,” he said. “And honestly, just getting rest is huge.”
Here are some other recommended treatments:
- Sinus rinses (containing distilled water and a saline solution) – they rinse away infected mucus
- Intranasal sprays like Afrin (containing anti-inflammatory medication) – they can reduce inflammation and pressure in the nasal passages
- Oral steroids – they decrease inflammation and help the “plumbing issues” in the nose, helping you breathe easier.
Is there any way to prevent a sinus infection?
“Hand-washing,” Dr. Clark said. “That’s probably the biggest thing. If your kids are sick, have them wash their hands, don’t share cups, and stop the spread of germs as best you can.”
Unfortunately, if you catch a virus that turns into a sinus infection, it’s best to let it run its course for the first few days.
“The best thing you can do for yourself is to get a good night’s sleep,” he said. “Your body is fighting it off and needs the energy.”
Even though these types of infections are common—the average person will get between two and five upper respiratory infections a year—Dr. Clark said if your symptoms are lasting longer than a week or if they start worsening at around 10 days, it’s probably time to seek medical treatment from your primary care physician.