Sinus infections and sinusitis can be incredibly uncomfortable and challenging to deal with. So much more than just a blocked nose, they can interfere with your quality of life, especially if they’re occurring on a regular basis. If you struggle with sinus infections then you’ll recognise the feeling of a completely blocked nose, pressure in your sinuses around your face, and the thick yellow-green mucus that usually accompanies this kind of problem. So, how do you treat sinus infections and sinusitis and are there any preventative steps you can take?
What type of sinus infection do you have?
The different types of sinus infections are defined depending on how long they last. So, for example, an acute sinus infection tends to last less than a month (but would be called ‘recurrent acute sinus infection’ if it’s happening four times a year or more). Subacute sinusitis lasts for between one and three months and anything longer than that is chronic.
Inflammation is the major issue
Any type of sinusitis or sinus infection starts with inflammation. This affects the lining of the sinus or the nasal cavity and could be caused by something like allergies, a respiratory infection or environmental pollutants. When this happens inflammation begins in the lining of the sinuses, trapping mucus there and creating a space for germs to grow. Around 95% of sinusitis cases are caused by a virus.
Treating a sinus infection and sinusitis
For less severe cases of sinusitis, treatment often revolves around rest and self-care and making good use of over-the-counter pain relief. Decongestants and nasal sprays can sometimes be helpful too. Antibiotics are not always going to be appropriate for treating sinus infections and sinusitis and you’ll need to have a conversation with your doctor about whether they are going to be the right solution for you. Viral infections don't respond to antibiotics so you’re only likely to get this kind of prescription if the infection is bacterial. Other medications, and even surgery to widen the nasal cavity, can be an effective treatment for chronic or recurrent sinusitis.
Looking after yourself
When you have sinusitis or a sinus infection there are also a number of steps you can take to help yourself, including using a warm compress on your face to relieve the pressure, using steam inhalation to help clear the sinuses, resting and staying hydrated. It can also ease your symptoms to ensure that there is plenty of moisture in the air in the room where you are.
Is it possible to prevent sinusitis?
There are a number of steps you can take to minimise the potential for it to happen, including:
- Wash your hands regularly and keep hygiene standards high.
- Stop smoking and stay away from smoky areas.
- Steer clear of people who are sick with a cold or other respiratory illness.
If sinusitis or sinus infections are regularly an issue for you there is plenty that you can do to treat this and prevent the problem from recurring again in the future.
Harley Street is the UK's foremost private medical centre which is dedicated to providing high-quality care for your ear, nose, throat, head & neck, and balance-related disorders. Find out more information on how Harley Street ENT can help you here.