Sinus infections, whether they are acute (lasting just a few weeks or less) or chronic (lasting at least 12 weeks), are pretty common. Around 10 percent of people find themselves dealing with the unpleasant symptoms of sinusitis each year.
It’s not just sinus infections and problems that are common. So are sinusitis myths. Some of the myths stem from a basic misunderstanding of what sinusitis is and what causes it. Other myths got their start as old wives’ tales or stories parents passed down through generations. Whatever the origin of these myths, knowing what’s real and what’s fiction when it comes to sinus infections can help you get the treatment you need to get relief.
You Can Always Treat Sinusitis with Antibiotics
One of the more pervasive sinusitis myths has to do with how you can treat the infection. People often hear “infection” and think bacteria. While it’s true that bacteria can cause an infection and that it does contribute to sinusitis, it’s not the only infectious agent out there. Viruses and fungi are also occasionally responsible for sinusitis. In cases of chronic sinusitis, it’s the constant inflammation in the sinus cavities that causes the trouble, not necessarily bacteria.
Antibiotics can help ease the symptoms of sinus infections BUT only if it’s absolutely certain that the infection is caused by bacteria. Antibiotics won’t kill viruses or fungi nor will they help reduce inflammation. In fact, taking antibiotics when there’s no bacterial infection present can help up causing more harm than good in the long run.
Only Sinusitis Causes Sinus Headaches
Sinus headaches often occur as a result of inflammation and pressure in the sinus cavities, due to a sinus infection. But if you don’t have a history of sinusitis and you’re not currently dealing with a sinus infection, you can still end up with a sinus headache.
Other issues that affect the sinuses, such as the cold common or allergies, can also trigger a sinus headache. People who suffer from migraines can experience sinus headache symptoms.
There’s good news and bads news when it comes to sinus headaches. The good news is that you might not have sinusitis. The bad news is that you might be dealing with something else, such as chronic migraines or a cold.
The Color of Your Mucus Tells You What Type of Infection You Have
People tend to get really fascinated by the color of their nasal discharge. Some people claim that if the mucus is yellow, it means there’s a virus present and that green mucous equals a bacterial infection. Under this logic, clear mucous is the best, because it means there’s no infection.
While the nasal discharge associated with sinusitis is usually discolored and often thicker than usual, there’s no “guidebook” to mucus that will help you decipher the type of infection you have. In fact, the discoloration is usually only because there are white blood cells present in the discharge.
If Your Friend or Family Member Has a Sinus Infection, You Can Get It, Too
While illnesses such as the common cold or the flu are contagious and you want to do your best to avoid sharing glasses, utensils, and airspace with a person who’s got the cold or flu, sinusitis usually isn’t contagious. Your friend won’t pass their chronic sinus infection on to you.
Treatment for Sinusitis is Complicated
Years ago, the surgery for chronic sinus infections was complex and often required a lengthy recovery period. But newer procedures, such as endoscopic sinus surgery and balloon sinuplasty are considerably less invasive. They have shorter recovery periods, don’t require large incions on the outside of the nose and don’t involve the use of nasal packing.
It’s also worth noting that not every case of sinusitis needs surgery. Often, conservative treatments are best used first, with surgery a consideration only if your sinus issues don’t respond to other options. Your doctor can discuss your options for treatment with you and help you decide which one will provide the most relief.
ABOUT DR. RUBINSTEIN
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience helping patients with sinus problems in the Hudson Valley. A board certified facial plastic surgeon and board certified otolaryngologist, he has extensive knowledge of laser procedures, facial plastic surgery, and nasal and sinus treatments, which allows him to improve aesthetics as well as functionality of the nose and facial features. Dr. Rubinstein received his board certifications through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. To get more information on sinus infections and your treatment options, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center by calling 845-562-6673.