A patient from Healthap asked about a chronic sinus infection:
“3 wk sore throat, sinus probs, prob due to post nasal drip. tried medrol dose pk, helped temporarily, but what more can i do? not bacterial.”
Here was my quick reply, but there is detailed information below.
If this is a chronic sinus issue: have had many times: a blood work up is needed. If this is a rare event or first time issue, it is likely a virus which can last wks-months: try humidifier, neti pot irrigation, increased VitD dosing, plenty of liquids; Cold-Eeze helps prevent infection before it starts: may be too late now but for next time. Eyedoc2020@blogspot.com has more info.
Viruses are super frustrating as we still do not have a great cure to stop them right away and it can take weeks-months to improve.
Bacterial infections are more dangerous though, as they can spread to the brain and cause a meningitis and death. Luckily, anti-biotics help prevent this, but still it can take weeks-months to improve and scar tissue can be left behind which can make you more susceptible to a future infection.
1. For a history of Chronic Sinus Infections be sure to check the following:
a. Immune system function: baseline CBC, Vitamin D level, ANCA if strong concern for Wegener’s which is a rare dangerous condition. I have only seen 3 patients who have had this in my career.
b. See rest noted below in #2
2. For Acute Sinus Infections:
a. Get plenty of rest
b. 64 oz water intake daily
c. Vitamin D increase or be in sun more with sunglasses.
d. Cold Eeze-Zinc lozenges helps prevent virus invasion in most cases if you take it at your first sign of a sore throat: down side is…too much zinc can cause temporary or permanent (rare) loss of smell.
f. Neti pot irrigation
Key for both Bacterial & Virus Sinus Infection:
Prevention is key!
Wash your hands.
Don’t touch your nose or face without having washed your hands.
Take Cold-Eeze exactly as it says on the box to help shorten the course of the illness. I have tried this multiple times & have been spared even a flu (which is not what Cold-Eeze is meant for, but now after multiple uses, I know it has worked for me to prevent a full blown influenza).
More good information.
The good news is that, regardless of the type of sinusitis, treatments can help. The key is to figure out what’s really causing the underlying problem. For instance, if your case of sinusitis is caused by allergies,decongestants alone will probably not help much.
If you have sinusitis symptoms for more than a couple of days, check in with your doctor. With a good exam — and sometimes imaging tests, like X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs — you may be able to figure out exactly what’s causing the problem.
Often, the best sinusitis treatment is a combination of different approaches — typically medication combined with self-care.
Medical Treatments for Sinusitis
- Antibiotics. If your doctor thinks that the cause of your sinusitis is a bacterial infection, he or she may prescribeantibiotics. For acute sinusitis, many people get a course of 10-14 days. For chronic sinusitis, a longer-term antibiotic might be necessary. However, remember that antibiotics only help with bacterial infections; they will not help with sinusitis caused by viruses or other problems. Some studies suggest that very few cases of sinusitis are actually caused by bacteria and that antibiotics are widely overused.
- Painkillers. Many people with sinusitis take over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to reduce discomfort. However, make sure to follow the instructions on the label, and don’t take them for more than 10 days.
- Decongestants. OTC decongestants can help reduce the amount of mucus in the sinuses. Some are available as nasal sprays — like Afrin and Dristan — and others as pills — like Contac andSudafed. However, if you use nasal sprays for more than three days, they may actually start increasing your congestion. Oraldecongestants shouldn’t be used for more than a week.
- Allergy medicines. Many cases of sinusitis are the result of uncontrolled allergies. If you’ve never been diagnosed with allergies, it might be worth doing some allergy testing to see if you have them. If you do have allergies, medication (like antihistamines) and better environmental control might help. Another option is to get allergy shots, a long-term treatment that gradually reduces your sensitivity to an allergen.
- Steroids. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe inhaled steroidsto bring down the swelling in the sinus membranes. For tough cases of chronic sinusitis, oral steroids are also a possibility.
- Surgery. Occasionally, with chronic sinusitis or acute sinusitis that keeps coming back, surgery is the best choice. The surgeon can remove blockages and enlarge the sinus passages, making it easier for them to drain.
Home Remedies: Treating and Preventing Sinusitis
While medicines can help, many cases of sinusitis — perhaps as many as two out of three — resolve on their own without any medical treatment. Here are some things that you can do on your own to relieve your discomfort. If you’re prone to sinusitis, many of these same approaches will help you prevent it, too.
Sinus Pain and Pressure