20
March
2013

Signs and Symptoms of a Sinus Infection

How to know if you are suffering from sinusitis

Sinus infections, or sinusitis, are common complications of allergies, colds, and deviations in the morphology and function of the paranasal sinuses. These infections arise as a result of inflammation of the soft tissues lining the sinuses, which causes swelling and mucus build-up. The excess mucus serves as a breeding ground for pathogens such as bacteria, which colonize the sinuses and exacerbate the condition. Here we talk about the signs and symptoms of a sinus infection, and steps to take once you determine if you are suffering from one.
Sinus infections, or sinusitis, are common complications of allergies, colds, and deviations in the morphology and function of the paranasal sinuses. These infections arise as a result of inflammation of the soft tissues lining the sinuses, which causes swelling and mucus build-up. The excess mucus serves as a breeding ground for pathogens such as bacteria, which colonize the sinuses and exacerbate the condition. Here we talk about the signs and symptoms of a sinus infection, and steps to take once you determine if you are suffering from one.
Signs and symptoms
Your first clue to the possibility that you might have a sinus infection is when, after a cold or a persistent bout of allergies, your nasal symptoms persist or even worsen. This is an indication that the mucus build-up produced by the underlying condition has facilitated a local bacterial or fungal infection within the sinuses. These are some of the most common symptoms of sinusitis:
  • A loss in the ability to smell
  • Foul-smelling breath
  • Persistent coughing and sore throat
  • Nasal discharge and a feeling of stuffiness
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Headache, especially pain around the eyes, face, and jaw
  • Fever, which may be accompanied by fatigue and joint pain
  • Inner ear pressure and dizziness
Chronic vs. acute sinusitis
Acute cases of sinusitis generally last only two or three weeks at most. These usually arise following a head cold or a persistent bout of allergies, and are self-limiting, requiring only home care to alleviate the symptoms. These infections are often caused by bacteria, but antibiotics should be avoided unless symptoms are uncommonly severe and persistent. The symptoms of acute sinusitis are generally stronger and have a faster onset than in chronic cases, but also disappear faster.
Chronic sinusitis generally lasts for more than one month, and may be caused by either a bacterial or fungal infection. This should be distinguished from a chronic sufferer of sinusitis, which is an individual who repeatedly gets sinus infections. Repeated infections are generally related to allergies or morphological abnormalities such as a deviated septum, and warrant talking to your doctor about measures you can take.
Special considerations
Call your doctor if you develop any of the following symptoms:
  • Severe symptoms lasting longer than 2 weeks
  • Fever that is either severe (greater than 102° F) or persistent (longer than 5 days)
  • Hindered vision
In the case of chronic or recurrent forms of sinusitis, your doctor might also ask you to undergo additional testing to determine the cause of the issue. These may include:
  • Allergy testing
  • Blood tests for immune system-compromising diseases
  • Tests to determine the function of nasal cilia
  • Sweat chloride tests for cystic fibrosis
However, the majority of sinus infections are easily treated through self-applied home care. Click here (insert link to cures for sinus infections article) to learn more about treatments for sinus infections.
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Categories: Sinuses

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