Nasal congestion and pressure or pain in your face are common symptoms of a sinus infection. Approximately 35 million Americans suffer from sinus infections at least once each year. Sinus infections can have a number of causes and can typically be treated at home. Here’s what you need to know about sinus infections, including their possible causes and treatments.

What Is a Sinus Infection?

A sinus infection, or sinusitis, is caused by the inflammation of the tissue lining your sinuses. Your sinuses are structures inside of your face that are typically filled with air. Healthy sinuses make mucus to keep the inside of your nose moist and free of allergens, bacteria, and other pathogens. Your sinuses can become blocked and filled with fluid, which allows germs to grow and cause an infection. A sinus infection itself is not contagious, but the cause may be if caused by certain viral or bacterial infections. Symptoms of a sinus infection may include:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose with thick yellow or green mucus
  • Postnasal drip
  • Pressure around your nose, eyes, or forehead
  • Ear pain or pressure
  • Teeth pain or pressure
  • Headache
  • Bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Tiredness

What Causes Sinus Infections?

diagram of sinus infection overlayed on woman's face while she blows her nose into a tissueAny condition that can cause sinus blockages can cause a sinus infection. Some of the most common causes of sinusitis include the common cold, the flu, bacteria, allergies, nasal polyps, and a deviated septum. Most sinus infections are categorized as acute sinusitis, lasting less than four weeks and often caused by a viral infection such as the common cold. Other types of sinus infections include:

  • Chronic sinusitis – usually caused by bacteria; symptoms that last at least 12 weeks.
  • Subacute sinusitis – symptoms last four to 12 weeks.
  • Recurrent acute sinusitis – symptoms come back four or more times in a year and last less than two weeks at a time.
  • Fungal sinusitis – caused by fungus; more serious and less common than other forms of sinusitis, typically occurring in people with a weakened immune system.

How Are Sinus Infections Treated?

Many sinus infections go away on their own without medical treatment. In some cases, however, treatment can be helpful or necessary. The treatment depends on a number of factors, such as the cause of your sinusitis and how long you’ve had it. Because there is no cure for viral infections, the treatment for a sinus infection caused by the common cold or flu is to simply manage symptoms while your body recovers. If a bacterial infection is to blame, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics. For chronic sinusitis, you may be prescribed steroids to help reduce swelling in the sinus membranes. If your sinus infection is caused by allergies, allergy remedies and medications like antihistamines may help. Other over-the-counter medications that can help relieve symptoms of sinusitis include painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen and decongestants.

Solutions for Sinus Problems at the Institute for Progressive Medicine

If you have chronic or recurrent sinus infections, you don’t need to continue to suffer. Here at the Institute for Progressive Medicine, we offer treatment options to help drain and heal your sinuses. We will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your specific health needs, which may include various therapies or lifestyle changes. If you’re ready to leave your sinus problems in the past, reach out to us today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert doctors. We look forward to helping you achieve the best health possible!