According to Medical News Today, over 31 million people suffer from sinus infections each year. The most common causes of sinus infections are due to virus, bacteria, and fungi. Oftentimes, symptoms of sinusitis look similar to symptoms of the common cold or allergies, so understanding what the underlying cause of your sinusitis symptoms and your sinus infection can enable your doctor to treat the underlying cause and provide you relief.
What Can Cause a Sinus Infection?
The sinuses are air-filled cavities located in the bony structures of the cheeks, behind the forehead and eyebrows, on either side of the bridge of the nose, and behind the nose. Sinuses are lined with a thin layer of mucus that traps dust, germs, and other particles floating in the air. Sinusitis, or a sinus infection, is a swelling of the tissues lining the sinuses. When the sinuses become blocked and filled up with fluid, germs can grow which can result in an infection. There are a number of conditions that can block the sinus, resulting in an infection. These conditions include:
· The common cold
· Allergic rhinitis
· Nasal polyps
· A deviated septum
Diagnosing a Sinus Infection
Because the symptoms of the common cold and a sinus infection overlap, self-diagnosing a sinus infection is challenging. To diagnose a sinus infection, your doctor will examine the nose, throat, and sinuses. They will look for:
· Inflammation of the nasal tissues
· Facial tenderness
· Discolored nasal discharge
· Bad breath
Most sinus infections are due to a virus and will go away on their own, however, sinus infections caused by a virus are contagious, so it’s important to take steps to avoid spreading it. You might be given a nasal spray to help with congestion. In cases of sinus infections caused by bacteria, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. If your sinus infection doesn’t go away on its own and is not resolved after antibiotics, your doctor might take a mucus culture to determine what specific bacteria is causing the infection to cater an antibiotic solution. A mucus culture might also confirm the presence of fungus or mold, which needs to be treated by anti-fungal medications rather than antibiotics. Some forms of fungal sinus infections require the use of oral steroids. If drug therapies fail to resolve the symptoms of a sinus infection, or if the infection is chronic or recurrent, surgery might be recommended as a last resort.
It’s important to keep the sinus clean so that air is able to flow through them. Sinus infections can develop when the sinuses become blocked with fluid which can happen as a result of medical conditions. Treatment for a sinus infection depends on the underlying cause of a sinus infection, and so it’s important to properly diagnose the cause in order to provide an effective treatment.