If you’ve ever experienced a sinus infection, you know the pain and misery this entails. The good news is there are many ways to treat it.
If you’ve ever experienced a sinus infection, you know the pain and misery this entails. You are not alone: roughly 37 million Americans suffer from sinusitis, making it the number one chronic health complaint in America.
Sinusitis is a result of swelling and inflammation in the nasal passages. Symptoms are similar to those of the common cold or allergies, including nasal congestion, cough, loss of smell and taste, nausea and myriad other sinus-related issues.
Sinusitis may be acute (two to four weeks) or chronic (12 weeks or more), and can be caused by many different factors ranging from respiratory tract infections and allergies to other medical conditions such as cystic fibrosis.
Acute sinus infections are usually treated with over-the-counter decongestants, nasal corticosteroid sprays and pain relievers and various home remedies like humidifiers, proper hydration and sleeping with your head elevated.
Unfortunately, chronic sinus infections do not respond as favorably to these types of treatment. They might require strong prescription medications, antifungal drugs or allergy shots.
The first approach to treating sinusitis is to try over-the-counter medications and nasal sprays. For those with acute sinusitis, antihistamines and decongestants are often powerful enough to do the trick. Symptoms should clear up in a week or two. If a bacterial infection is identified, you’ll be given antibiotics.
People with chronic sinusitis rarely find long-term relief with OTC drugs. Prescription medications, corticosteroid sprays, antifungal medications, and allergy shots may be recommended, at least initially.
If these treatments don’t work, there are two effective surgical options: endoscopic sinus surgery, which utilizes an endoscope mounted with a video camera; or balloon dilation, in which a catheter is inserted into the sinus cavity and inflated—both of which open up nasal passages and allow fluids to drain.
There are pros and cons to both types of surgery. The good news? Both produce long-term results and should help clear up your chronic sinusitis.