Sinus infections, also called sinusitis, often cause inflamed nasal passages which give sufferers a headache and make it hard for them to breathe. The sinuses are hollow cavities within the nasal passages. They are located behind the cheek bones, across the lower forehead, and between the eyes. Infections leading to pain can be felt in any of these areas.
How long a sinus infection lasts depends a lot upon what type of infection it is, and where it is located. An acute or sub acute infection might take a month to get over. If symptoms last beyond a month, the condition becomes chronic and a doctor should be consulted for further treatment.
At times the mucus in the sinuses doesn’t drain properly, or it becomes infected. Inflammation between, below, above, and behind the eyes is usually the end result. Sinusitis is categorized into two types:
Acute Sinusitis: Most often this infection is seen after someone has a cold. However, acute sinusitis can be caused by allergies, fungal infections and bacterial infections. In most people, this type of infection will go away with simple home remedies and over-the-counter pain medications.
Chronic Sinusitis: If an acute infection lingers beyond eight weeks it is then classified as a chronic infection. Most often caused by an infection or a fungal allergy, chronic sinusitis can also be caused by nasal polyps (growths in the sinus area). On rare occasions a chronic sinus infection may be caused by a deviated septum. Whatever the cause of chronic sinus infections, over time this type of infection can lead to tissue damage in the sinuses.
Are Sinus Infections Contagious?
Most sinus infections are viral in nature, due to viruses being able to reproduce so quickly. This is why it is common to get a sinus infection while suffering from the common cold. Although the viral sinus infection is not contagious, the virus itself can be passed around, causing others to catch your cold (and leaving them susceptible to getting a sinus infection). Antihistamines, corticosteroids, and decongestants bought over-the-counter offer the best treatment for viral sinusitis.
Bacterial sinusitis is very contagious when it is in the active stages. In a bacterial infection, the sinuses swell due to trapped mucus being overrun with a growth of microorganisms. The symptoms are more severe than a viral infection: high fever, facial pain, post nasal drip, cough, tooth pain, headache, fatigue, ear pressure and pain, and a dark green-yellow nasal discharge that has an unpleasant smell. This type of infection needs to be treated with antibiotics or anti-fungal medicines.
Avoiding contact with someone who has a bacterial sinus infection is the best way not to spread the infection. Sinus infections are not fatal, but they should not be ignored. Let your doctor decide if you need more than home treatment for your sinus infection.
Treatment of Sinus Infection
- Paracetamol and Ibuprofen will help with pain relief.
- Steroid sprays or drops might be prescribed for chronic sinus infections; steroids are great for reducing swelling.
- A humidifier puts moisture in the air and makes it easier to breathe.
- Bacterial infections will always need to be treated with a round of antibiotics.
- You can use a sinus wash to clean your nose of mucus and any other irritant that may be bothering you.
- Take a steamy shower, or just sit in a steamy bathroom. This will help to loosen the mucus, and allow the nasal passages to open.