By Thomas S. Higgins, Jr., MD, MSPH
Dad. Husband. Physician. Sinus Nerd.
Getting rid of a sinus infection depends on the cause. Viruses, bacteria, and fungi are potential culprits. Some non-infectious sources may also mimic the symptoms of sinus infections. Here is a list of remedies to consider based on the cause.
4 Treatments for 4 Different Sinus Conditions:
1. For a snotty nose that just started, the cause is likely a viral "cold" and humidification, decongestants, and saline nasal rinses, are helpful to get you through it.
2. For drainage lasting a week, especially if worsening, the cause is likely bacterial and antibiotics are helpful.
3. For headache and facial pain without drainage, consider something not related to the sinuses, such as tension headache, migraine, and facial muscle tension. The right treatment starts by knowing the right diagnosis.
4. For symptoms lasting over 3 months, you may have "chronic sinusitis" and you should consult a specialist. Things get complicated here and getting help is the way to go. You shouldn't have to go at it alone!
Aspirin Triad Sinusitis (or Aspirin Exacerbated Respiratory Disease) is the combination of aspirin sensitivity, severe chronic sinusitis with polyposis, and asthma. It often manifests in adulthood and can be one of the most difficult-to-manage sinus problems. Read More.
By Thomas S. Higgins, MD, MSPH, www.higgins-sinus.com
Okay, the sinus doctor got a sinus infection. And yes, he recovered. And WITHOUT antibiotics.
I tell my patients to try remedies other than antibiotics for the first few days of feeling a sinus infection. Now, there are exceptions: high fever, severe symptoms, a scope examination clearly showing a bacterial infection, etc. However, most early infections are viral or inflammatory, so they do not necessarily require antibiotics.
So, back to my sinus infection. On Friday, I started feeling the congestion. Then came the thick yellow drainage and difficult breathing. By Saturday, I was fatigued, had facial/sinus pressure, and felt warm. I took my temperature: 97.8 degrees Fahrenheit. No fever.
This is the day when many people think that an antibiotic is the answer. I have to say, the thought crossed my mind, but I resisted. I, instead, started “The Dr. Higgins’ Nose & Sinus Relief Routine”:
The first two days of fatigue were tough, but I could breathe through my nose because of The Routine. I believe allowing myself to breathe served two purposes: (1) It made me feel much more comfortable and (2) It prevented the mucus from getting backed up in my nose, which could prolong or worsen the infection. I started noticing some improvement on days 3 and 4. I started taking the decongestants less often. For the next week, I continued an occasional irrigation to clear thick yellow mucus in the back of my nose. By the end of the week, however, I was off nasal decongestants and irrigations. I felt back to normal, except for a lingering cough, which I knew typically would last on average at least 10 days. I continued the nasal steroid spray until the cough disappeared.
And, aaaahhhhhh. Back to normal. No antibiotics, but aggressive treatment. Now, when I have a true bacterial infection, I do not have to worry that I could have previously created an environment for a resistant bug, and my body will be ready.
Hot off the Presses!
Impact of tobacco smoke on chronic rhinosinusitis: a review of the literature† Douglas D. Reh MD, Thomas S. Higgins MD, Timothy L. Smith MD, MPH, International Forum of Allergy & Rhinology, Volume 2, Issue 5, pages 362–369, September/October 2012
"There is clear evidence in the literature that cigarette smoke, either through active smoking or passive exposure contributes to chronic sinusitis. Recent prospective studies suggest that active smoking is not a contraindication to sinus surgery, although the impact of smoking volume and long-term smoking after sinus surgery has not been sufficiently evaluated."
Scientists in Europe are trialing a ultrasound sensor
that detects the viscosity of fluid. The idea is that the sensor can detect if
the fluid in the paranasal sinuses is thick or thin. Their hypothesis is that
patients with thick secretions are more likely to represent a bacterial
infection and need antibiotics. See the news article here.
Welcome to Nose and Sinus News on www.higgins-sinus.com, where we post news, highlights, and interesting stories about nose and sinus disease! Check back often!