A sinus infection is a condition in which the cavities around the nasal passages become inflamed. It can be caused by a cold, the flu or even allergies. It affects tens of millions of people every year. Many sinus infections resolve on their own in a week to ten days.

sinus infections ROVA ENTSigns and Symptoms of a Sinus Infection

  • Sinus pressure behind the eyes and cheeks; facial pain
  • Runny nose
  • Congested nose
  • Thick green or yellow mucus when you blow your nose
  • Cough, especially when lying down (this is due to post-nasal drip, which is mucus dripping down the back of your throat)
  • Headache
  • Distorted sense of smell
  • Fever

Many of the symptoms you experience with a sinus infection are similar to the ones you experience when you have a cold. The main difference is the sinus pressure caused by a sinus infection.

When to See a Doctor

Many sinus infections get better on their own, and the symptoms can be alleviated with home remedies. However, you should see a doctor if:

  • your symptoms start to improve and then get worse again; this could be a sign
  • the pressure behind your eyes or in your face gets really uncomfortable
  • the symptoms last for more than ten days
  • your fever lasts more than 3-4 days
  • your fever goes about 102 degrees Fahrenheit
  • over-the-counter and home remedies aren’t helping

How an Urgent Care Facility Can Help

The medical professionals at an urgent care facility will question you about your symptoms, when they started, and perform an examination. The doctors can prescribe medications to alleviate your most troublesome symptoms, such as steroid nasal sprays to open up your clogged sinuses; stronger ibuprofen or acetaminophen than you can buy over-the-counter; antibiotics if they think your sinus infection is bacterial rather than viral.

When to See an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist)

If your sinus infection keeps coming back, or you have multiple sinus infections in a year, it is a good idea to see an ENT. Additionally, if you have been prescribed a course of medication by a general practitioner and you feel you are not getting any better, an ENT visit is warranted.

How an ENT Can Help

An ENT will examine the inside of your nose with a nasal endoscope. This will allow the doctor to see if there is any type of obstruction in your nasal passages, examine any swelling and redness, and determine if your sinuses are draining appropriately.  If other courses of medication have not cleared up your symptoms, the ENT may drain your sinuses to open up the blockages and relieve the pressure behind your eyes or in your face. The ENT may also take a culture of your mucus by swabbing the inside of your nose to determine what type of additional therapy might be needed.

Home Treatments

One of the most important things you can do is drink plenty of fluids. It is especially important to stay hydrated when you are sick.

Many people find that home remedies help them get more comfortable and feeling better. 

  • Irrigate your nose with saline solution; you can buy saline solution over-the-counter or make it at home. To make the saline solution at home, use salt and distilled, sterile water or boil water from your tap and cool it.  A Neti pot is very helpful to irrigate the nasal passages and help to unclog them. 
  • Place some boiling water in a bowl, lean over it and breathe in the steam; try draping a towel over your head and the bowl if you want to intensify the steam effect
  • Close the bathroom door, turn on the shower with very hot water, and breathe in the steam
  • Use a humidifier or vaporizer
  • Try over-the-counter nasal sprays to unclog your stuffy nose
  • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for fever and pain

Sinus infections can be painful, uncomfortable and annoying, many of them will resolve on their own. Luckily, many of these infections get better on their own.

Dr. Paul Lenkowski and the Roanoke Valley ENT & Allergy team are dedicated to providing innovative, state-of-the-art treatment to patients of all ages in the Roanoke area. With years of experience and expertise in cutting-edge sinus surgery techniques, Dr. Lenkowski is your choice for expert ENT care. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!