Every year, millions of people have to deal with sinusitis–AKA a sinus infection. In some cases, people confuse the symptoms of an ongoing or chronic sinus infection with symptoms of a cold that they just can’t seem to get over. Although sinusitis symptoms do share some things in common with the symptoms of a cold, they are also distinct.
We’ll teach you to recognize some of the common symptoms of sinusitis and go over what you can do to get relief from ongoing symptoms.
Facial Pain and Headache
When you have sinusitis, the cavities behind the nose, under the eyes and in the forehead become inflamed and irritated. That inflammation often leads to pain in the face, usually in the area around the eyes, nose, cheeks, and forehead. In some cases, the pain can become worse when the person bends down or leans forward.
A headache caused by sinusitis can often seem similar to a migraine, but there are some differences. A sinus headache usually lasts a lot longer than a migraine, often for several days at a time. The pain can be felt in the cheeks, or in some cases, the upper row of teeth. Often, a person will have stuffiness in the nose or nasal discharge with the headache pain.
Nasal discharge (with or without headache pain) is another common sinusitis symptom. Often, the discharge is thick and discolored rather than clear. The discharge can flow down the back of the throat, causing post-nasal drip and other symptoms.
Since the sinuses are inflamed when you have a sinus infection, it can feel as if it’s difficult to take a deep breath in through your nose. You might feel “stuffed up” or congested, as though something is blocking your nasal passages. The congestion associated with a sinus infection can also affect your ability to smell and taste things.
Sore Throat and Cough
If the mucus or discharge created by the inflammation in the sinuses drips down the back of your throat, it can cause irritation that can make you sound hoarse or lead to a sore throat. While the pain in your throat might not be so bad at first, if the sinusitis persists and you continue to have post-nasal drip, the irritation in your throat can become much worse or almost unbearable.
Sinusitis vs. a Cold
Nasal discharge, a stuffy nose, and a sore throat — those symptoms sound like what you can expect from a cold, as well as sinusitis. So how can you tell which is which?
Usually, sinusitis symptoms last for a lot longer than the symptoms associated with a cold. In fact, the symptoms associated with an acute sinus infection are often caused by the common cold but keep going once the initial cold virus has cleared up. In the case of chronic sinusitis, the symptoms you experience last for months, rather than days or weeks.
What to Do About Sinusitis
If you are experiencing sinusitis symptoms, the first thing to do is to figure out what’s causing the infection. It’s common to assume that the symptoms are due to a bacterial infection, but that’s not always the case. For example, a chronic sinus infection can be due to persistent allergies, irregularities within the nasal cavity or another chronic condition. Along with being caused by a bacteria, a sinus infection can also develop because of a fungal or viral infection.
Treatments for sinusitis range from conservative options, such as irrigating the nasal passages with saline or taking a course of antibiotics (for bacterial infections only) to more complicated options, such as sinus surgery or balloon dilation. Typically, surgical options are reserved for instances when conservative treatments have not been effective.
ABOUT DR. RUBINSTEIN
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience in helping patients with sinus problems and allergies 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 both aesthetics and functionality for patients. If you’re interested in learning more about sinusitis symptoms and how to get relief from chronic sinus infections, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center by calling 845-562-6673.