Many respiratory infections will clear up without any medical treatment. Many of these infections are caused by viruses that don’t respond to antibiotics and medical intervention is focused on easing symptoms.

They say if you treat a cold and it will last 7 to 10 days. If you don’t do anything; then it will last a week to a week and a half. But common colds should not be confused with sinusitis. Sinusitis can become a chronic condition. If you think you have a sinus infection you should see the ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor for treatment. It can be the difference between having sinusitis and recovering and having sinusitis over and over again.

What is sinusitis?

The sinuses are air filled spaces in the bones of your face and head. The sinuses are an important part of your upper respiratory system. They condition the air you breathe in so that it can be better used by your lungs. Sinusitis is an infection in the sinuses. Your sinuses are lined with membranes that produce mucous. An infection can cause these membranes to become inflamed. When this happens the inflammation keeps the sinuses from draining naturally. These infections can be the result of:

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi

Sinusitis may respond to treatment and be cleared or it may be chronic. Chronic sinusitis is either a stubborn infection that does not respond to treatment or sinusitis that returns over and over again. Either way, sinusitis can cause pain and time lost from work or school. 

Sinusitis symptoms

Sinusitis may be confused for a cold. Many of the symptoms are the same. But with sinusitis you will have pain under the eyes, above the bridge of the nose, and in the upper teeth. These are where the sinuses are located.  In addition to pain, you may experience:

  • Fever of 101°F
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Thick yellow or green mucous
  • Bad breath
  • Moist cough

A cold may go away; but it can leave you with sinusitis. So if you have cold symptoms for more than 10 days or if your symptoms suddenly get worse; you may have a sinus infection. If this happens to you, it is time to see the ENT doctor. The ENT specializes in all things ear, nose, throat and this includes the face and neck. Sinuses are included!  The ENT doctor can treat your sinus infection and identify the reason for chronic sinusitis.

ENT treatment of sinusitis

If this is the first visit to the ENT doctor, a complete medical history will be in order. When you see the ENT, it is important to let the ENT know when the symptoms first started and how they progressed.

The ENT will examine your nose. The ENT will be looking for sources of obstruction. In addition to a physical and visual exam, the ENT may request tests such as CT scan, MRI or endoscopic exam. 

  • Medical Intervention.  Depending on the type of sinusitis you have, the ENT may prescribe antibiotics. Viral infections won’t respond to antibiotics, so an antibiotic might not be prescribed. For chronic bacterial sinusitis, several different antibiotics may need to be taken. If your sinusitis is fungal, an antifungal medication may be prescribed.
  • Decongestants, saline sprays or oral corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation. Pain can be controlled with over-the-counter NSAIDs.
  • Surgery. Surgery may be required if the infection is caused by structural problems with the sinuses. Balloon sinuplasty, septoplasty or functional endoscopic sinus surgery may be necessary.

Seek treatment early

If you have a sinus headache and it does not respond to conventional at home treatment call the ENT. The ENT doctor is your doctor to treat sinusitis.