Sinus infections are miserable. Your head feels like it’s going to explode, your face feels like you’ve been kicked, and you can’t breathe through your nose no matter how much you blow it. What can you do to start feeling better faster?
What causes sinus infections?
Sinus infections are also called sinusitis, and they’re the result of infection, swelling, and inflammation of the sinus cavities in your face. Since you have different sinus cavities throughout your face, you may experience a sinus headache or sinus pressure anywhere from your teeth to your cheeks to your eyes or even your ears.
Sinus infections are typically a side effect of an illness like the cold or flu viruses. They can also be the result of allergies, bacteria, or irritants like cocaine, cigarette smoke, or nasal spray.
Sinus infection symptoms
Sinus infection symptoms may include:
- Nasal congestion or discharge
- Loss of sense of smell
- Postnasal drip
- Sore throat
- Sinus headache
- Swelling or tenderness in the face
- Pain that may be located around your eyes forehead, nose, upper teeth, or jaw
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Are sinus infections contagious?
Sinus infections caused by irritants or allergies are not contagious. The virus or bacteria that caused a sinus infection can be contagious, but it won’t always cause a sinus infection in the other person.
How to treat a sinus infection
Since sinus infections aren’t typically caused by bacteria, you don’t usually need to see a doctor for antibiotics. Sinus infections typically go away on their own within a few days. Here are a couple of treatments you can try to cure your sinus infection:
- Antihistamines and decongestants are over the counter medicines that may help relieve sinus pressure and sinus headaches. Some examples of antihistamines and decongestants include Allegra, Claritin, Sudafed, and Zyrtec.
- Mucus thinners make it easier to get the mucus out of your sinus cavities, and less mucus can result in less sinus pressure.
- Over the counter pain medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) can help relieve sinus headaches or pressure.
- Nasal decongestant sprays such as oxymetazoline can alleviate symptoms, but they shouldn’t be longer than three days because there’s a risk rebound effects.
- Over the counter steroid nasal sprays like fluticasone or triamcinolone can relieve your symptoms without the risk of rebound effects.
- Saline nasal irrigation like using a neti pot may help flush mucus from your sinus cavities, which may help relieve symptoms. It’s crucial to use filtered or boiled water since tap water can cause problems.
- Antibiotics for sinus infection may be prescribed if your symptoms don’t clear up within a week. Since antibiotics aren’t effective for sinus infections caused by viruses, allergies, or irritants, they should only be used if your doctor suspects that your infection is caused by a bacteria.
Are you experiencing symptoms of a sinus infection? Book an appointment with a PlushCare physician and get a prescription today.