If you get a sinus infection, it’s probably because you have some kind of cold. But there are different types of colds and different reasons why your nose becomes blocked and drippy at the same time. This article discusses the details of what causes sinus infections. We will cover how to avoid getting them, how to treat them, and what you can do to prevent them again in future.
What’s the difference between a cold and a sinus infection?
The number one cause of a sinus infection is a cold. A cold is caused by a virus, whereas an infection is caused by bacteria. In other words, the difference between a cold and a sinus infection is caused by the difference in the infection.
A cold can go away on its own, but a sinus infection needs to be treated with antibiotics. When people get sick, they often catch a cold and a sinus infection at the same time. Usually it’s easy to tell the difference between the two:
• A cold generally comes on suddenly and lasts for about a week. A sinus infection can start slowly, but it often comes on suddenly, with a sudden increase in pain and pressure in the nose and sinuses.
• A cold is accompanied by a runny nose, but a sinus infection is accompanied by a blocked nose.
• A sinus infection often produces yellow, green, or even bloody mucus from your nose. A cold does not.
How do you know if you have a sinus infection?
A sinus infection is usually diagnosed based on your medical history, what symptoms you are experiencing, and a physical examination of your nose. For example, if you have had a cold that has lasted longer than 10 days, is accompanied by a blocked nose and pressure in your face, and you have yellow or green mucus, your doctor may suspect that you have a sinus infection.
Your doctor may use an otoscope (a small, lighted instrument that they put into your nose) to look into your nose and sinuses, or they may take a sample of mucus from your nose to test. In rare cases, your doctor may order a CT scan of your sinuses to get a better view inside and to see if there is any fluid or pus behind the sinuses.
Common causes of Sinus Infections
– Acute Sinusitis – Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses and is a very common cause of painful sinus infections.
– Allergies – There is a lot of debate about whether allergies or hay fever can cause sinus infections, but for most people, allergies are a cause of a cold, not a sinus infection.
For some people with allergies, however, the nasal congestion and sinus pressure may be so severe that it’s a sinus infection.
– Dry Air – If you spend a lot of time in dry air, you are at higher risk of developing a sinus infection.
– Blocked Ears – If you have water in your ears, it’s difficult for the fluid in the sinuses to drain properly and can cause the sinuses to become infected.
– Swimming – Sinus infections are very common in swimmers because water can easily find its way into your ears and sinuses.
– Occupational Hazards – If you work with certain chemicals, fumes, or dust, you are also at a higher risk of developing a sinus infection.
Natural Remedies for Sinus Infections
– Fish Oil – Studies have shown that fish oil can reduce the risk of getting a cold, and therefore a sinus infection, by around 40%.
– Probiotics – Probiotics are great for keeping your immune system strong, which can help prevent a sinus infection.
– Ginger – Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory that can help reduce the swelling and pressure in your sinuses caused by a sinus infection.
– Green Tea – Green tea has powerful anti-microbial properties that make it great for fighting bacteria in your sinuses.
– Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an immune system booster that is particularly helpful for reducing colds and preventing sinus infections.
Prescription Medications for Sinus Infections
– Antibiotics – Antibiotics are the most common and effective treatment for sinus infections.
– Steroid Spray – Steroid sprays can be very effective for reducing inflammation in the sinuses and are often used as a short-term solution for an acute sinus infection.
– Decongestants – Decongestants can be helpful in reducing the swelling in your nasal passages and improving your symptoms.
When is it time to see the doctor?
If your sinus infection has not improved after 10 days, it’s time to see the doctor. If you are experiencing pain in your face and your sinuses are blocked, you should visit the doctor even sooner. Most sinus infections will resolve on their own within 10 days, but if you have a cold that has lasted longer than 10 days, it’s likely a sinus infection.
And if you have a cold that has lasted longer than 10 days and is accompanied by a blocked nose and pressure in your face, it’s probably a sinus infection.
Sinus infections are very common, particularly in the winter when we are spending more time indoors with dry air. Most colds that last longer than 10 days are actually sinus infections. And if you have a cold that has lasted longer than 10 days and is accompanied by a blocked nose and pressure in your face, it’s almost certainly a sinus infection.
Most sinus infections are caused by bacteria, and antibiotics are the most effective treatment. If your sinus infection has not improved after 10 days, you should visit the doctor.