You’ve no doubt heard a lot about sinuses and sinus infections. But what exactly are sinuses? Let’s start with a few basic definitions so you can better understand how your sinuses are meant to function.
The sinuses are the passageways in the bones of your face that lead to your nasal cavity, which is the area located between your nose and throat. Your sinuses are lined with a membrane that creates mucus to moisturize these airways and trap inhaled microorganisms, dust, and debris. In a healthy person, for example, mucus is constantly draining from the sinuses, down the throat, and into the stomach.
A sinus infection occurs when the mucus membrane lining your sinuses becomes irritated and inflamed (sinusitis), causing an overproduction of mucus and swelling of tissue in the area. The normal flow of mucus is blocked when you have a sinus infection, promoting the growth of germs. Chronic sinus infections are when you have repeated bouts of sinusitis symptoms or if a single sinus infection lasts longer than three months.
Sinus infections are extremely common, affecting more than 10% of the U.S. population every year. These infections are even more prevalent than heart disease or asthma – and are responsible for millions of doctor visits, billions in medication costs, and untold hours of lost productivity. Sinusitis is one of the most common reasons antibiotics are prescribed.
Causes of sinus infections include viruses, bacteria, fungi, allergies, and more. A deviated septum, nasal polyps, or more-narrow-than-usual sinus cavities can all increase your susceptibility to sinus infections.
In Georgetown, Texas, ENT doctor Scott W. Franklin, MD, is an expert in diagnosing and treating sinus infections. After an evaluation, he will explain your condition and the treatment options available to you.
How Can I Tell if I Have a Sinus Infection?
The signs and symptoms of a sinus infection can be quite uncomfortable and may include:
- Facial pain, pressure, congestion, or fullness
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Nasal discharge that is yellow or green
- Loss of the sense of smell or taste
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
You should seek medical attention if your symptoms are severe, last longer than 7-10 days, or are accompanied by a fever.
Do you have chronic sinusitis? Take our survey to find out if you may benefit from a balloon sinuplasty or sinus surgery.
Your Treatment Options for Sinus Infections
Treatment will depend on the cause, type, and location of your sinus infection. For example:
- Antibiotics may be prescribed for acute cases due to a bacterial infection.
- Antifungal medications may be required in cases where the infection is caused by a fungus.
- Treatment for sinus infections triggered by allergies may include immunotherapy (allergy drops), antihistamines, or avoiding the allergen in question.
In some cases, nasal or oral steroids may be prescribed to reduce swelling associated with your symptoms. Decongestants and mucus-thinning drugs may also be used. Treatment may also include natural remedies such as nasal irrigation or breathing in hot, moist air.
Chronic sinus infections that do not respond to medications or other conservative treatment methods may require sinus surgery or other procedures to open and drain the sinuses. Most often, this is done by one of the following minimally invasive methods that access congested sinus cavities via the nostrils:
- Balloon Sinuplasty – A nonsurgical option in which a balloon is used to widen clogged sinus passageways, without cutting into any tissue or bone
- Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) – A technique utilizing a tiny, flexible nasal endoscope to surgically widen a sinus cavity
If your chronic sinus infections are complicated by nasal polyps, a deviated septum, or other structural issues, procedures to correct those issues may also be required.
To prevent the recurrence of a sinus infection after surgery or other treatment, ask Dr. Franklin what type of medical maintenance regimen or lifestyle changes may be right for you.
Sinus Infections Treatment in Georgetown, TX
If you suffer from chronic sinus infections, it’s time you discussed your treatment options with ear, nose, and throat surgeon Dr. Scott W. Franklin of Georgetown ENT in Georgetown, Texas. Call (512) 869-0604 or request your appointment now.