If you’re familiar with the pain, pressure and fatigue that sinus infections bring, you’re not alone. Millions of patients suffer from sinus infections each year, but some are more susceptible to getting them again and again. Find out what’s causing your sinuses to become blocked so you can avoid infection and get relief.
In most cases, sinus infections start after a cold. When nasal tissue swells as it does when you have a virus, the sinuses become blocked and don’t allow mucus to drain. Your viral sinus infection will go away on its own in a week or so and symptoms can be relieved with a decongestant.
When a cold lasts for two weeks, bacteria may have settled into your sinuses. Decongestants may relieve your symptoms but in order to cure the infection, you will need antibiotics.
Allergies can lead to sinus infections from constant inflammation. Allergic reactions to dust mites, dander, or seasonal allergies can prevent mucus from draining out of the nasal passage. In short, the best way to prevent a sinus infection is to avoid these allergens or treat the allergies. Antihistamines and nasal sprays may help, but you may need allergy shots if symptoms persist.
Nasal Polyps and Other Structural Problems
Some people have tiny growths called polyps in their nose that block the sinus cavity and restrict mucus from draining. A deviated septum (where the nose is shifted to one side) and tumors are also causes for the nasal cavity becoming blocked. In some cases, patients may benefit from Balloon Sinuplasty in which a tiny balloon is inserted to widen the sinus cavity. However, in other cases surgery may be necessary.
During diving and flying, the change in pressure can cause fluid to build up in your sinuses and sometimes block nasal packages. If you’re susceptible to sinus infections, avoid diving into pools and use a decongestant before getting on a plane.
Overuse of Nasal Products
While it’s true that nasal decongestant sprays relieve congestion, they constrict the blood vessels in the nose. Therefore, you should avoid prolonged use of over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays, as they can make your symptoms worse if not used as directed. Nasal sprays are meant to reduce inflammation. But if they’re used for an extended period, you can become desensitized to it and get stuffy again.
We all know smoking is bad for the lungs, but did you know it can also irritate and inflame your sinuses? If you’re constantly getting sinus infections, you should seriously consider quitting smoking in order to breathe better.
Mucus needs to be moist in order to drain well. Conversely, when it gets trapped in the nasal passages it can dry out and become infected. Stay well hydrated and use a humidifier to keep the air in your home moist.
Contact Sound Health If You Have Chronic Sinus Infections
If you have sinus pain and pressure that isn’t relieved by home remedies and antibiotics, you may benefit from a consultation with one of our ENT doctors. After a complete medical history and examination, we’ll prescribe any medications that may help, order imaging tests, and discuss treatment options that will bring you relief. Schedule an appointment at(314) 332-1377 in MO (618) 235-3687 in IL.