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Jennifer Nelson

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About Author — Jennifer is a freelance writer in the Midwest who writes about a variety of topics but especially enjoys educating people about their health and the health of their pets.

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog.

You’re starting to recover from a cold or the flu, but now it feels like you’ve been kicked in the face and you still can’t breathe through your nose no matter how much you blow it.

Could you be experiencing a sinus infection?

What is a sinus infection?

A sinus infection, also called sinusitis, is the infection, swelling, and inflammation of cavities in your face called the sinuses. You have many sinus cavities in your face, so you may experience pain anywhere from your teeth to above or below your eyes to a sinus headache depending on which sinus cavities are affected.

Sinus infection symptoms

If you’ve ever experienced a sinus infection before, you’re probably familiar with a sinus headache and sinus pressure. What other symptoms might you have? Sinus infection symptoms can include:

  • Cough
  • Facial pain, tenderness, or swelling
  • Fever
  • Inability to smell
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nasal discharge that’s yellow, green, or cloudy
  • Pain: above, below, or between your eyes; your forehead; either side of your nose; or your upper teeth or jaw.
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sinus headache
  • Sore throat

Sinus infection causes

Sinus infections are often the side effect of a virus such as a cold or the flu. Sinus infections may also be caused by allergies or irritants such as cigarette smoke, nasal sprays, or cocaine. Occasionally, sinus infections may be caused by bacteria.

Are sinus infections contagious?

While sinus infections themselves are usually not contagious, an illness that triggered a sinus infection, like the cold or flu, may be contagious, although the person affected by that illness may not develop a sinus infection.

Best medicine for sinus infection

Most of the time, sinus infections will clear up within a few days with some simple over the counter and home remedies. If your sinus infection lasts longer than a week, you should speak to a doctor.

  • Nasal decongestant sprays such as oxymetazoline may relieve symptoms, but you shouldn’t use them any longer than three days since you may suffer from rebound effects.
  • Over the counter steroid nasal sprays like fluticasone or triamcinolone can relieve your symptoms, and they don’t have a risk of rebound effects.
  • Saline nasal irrigation can help flush mucus from your sinus cavities, which can help reduce your symptoms. It’s important to note that you should use filtered or boiled water; tap water can cause problems.
  • Antihistamines and decongestants are easily found over the counter and can help alleviate sinus pressure and sinus headaches. Some examples may include Sudafed, Zyrtec, Allegra, and Claritin.
  • Mucus thinners can make the mucus easier to remove, and less mucus may mean less sinus pressure.
  • Over the counter pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) can help relieve sinus headaches.
  • Herbal medications are available in Europe, such as GeloMytrol, an oral capsule of essential oils, and Sinupret, an oral mixture of elderflower, cowslip, sorrel, verbena, and gentian root. They’ve been shown to relieve your symptoms, but you shouldn’t try to combine these ingredients by yourself since doing so can lead to serious side effects.
  • Antibiotics for sinus infection may be used as a last resort if your symptoms don’t clear up within a week. Antibiotics are not effective for sinus infections caused by viruses, allergies, or irritants, so they should only be used if it’s likely that the infection is caused by bacteria.

Do you have a sinus infection that has lasted more than a few days? If it’s time to explore antibiotics, book an appointment with an online doctor. PlushCare doctors can diagnose and treat sinus infections with antibiotics prescriptions.

Book an appointment with PlushCare now.

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