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There’s no question, sinusitis can be miserable. When your sinuses get inflamed and swollen, they don’t drain properly. You may find it difficult to breathe, your face may feel swollen and sore, and you may have a headache or even a throbbing toothache. So, what causes all the misery involved in a sinus infection? More to the point, what can be done to treat it?

Typically, sinusitis is caused by a cold. Acute sinusitis generally clears up within about 10 days, unless it turns into a bacterial infection. If your sinusitis lasts for more than 12 weeks, even with medical care, it graduates from acute to chronic sinusitis. When you have sinusitis, your symptoms will probably include thick, yellow or green mucus, either running from your nose or running down your throat, a stuffy or blocked nose that makes it hard to breathe, and pain, swelling, and pressure around the eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead. This pain usually gets worse if you bend over. You might also experience pressure in your ears, a headache, bad breath, changes to your sense of smell, cough, fatigue, fever, and toothaches.

Fortunately, sinus treatment can usually be managed at home, without medical intervention. Even if you go to a doctor for a diagnosis, you will probably be given a list of over-the-counter remedies to try at home. These include decongestants, cold and allergy medications, and saline nasal spray. Your doctor will probably also advise you to drink plenty of fluids, as this can help flush out the viral infection causing your symptoms.

There are, however, some situations in which you will need to seek the care of a doctor for your sinusitis. If your symptoms last for more than a week, or seem to improve but then get worse, it’s better to go ahead and make a doctor’s appointment. Your doctor may determine that it is a bacterial infection, in which case you may be prescribed a Z-Pak. The same thing goes if you have a persistent fever or you’re prone to recurrent or chronic sinusitis. A sinus infection becomes an emergency warranting immediate medical treatment if you begin running a high fever or have pain, swelling, or redness around the eyes. Other urgent signs of a serious infection include confusion, double vision, or a stiff neck.

Why are some people more likely to get sinus infections than others? If you have hay fever or other allergies that impact your sinuses, or you have a cold, you are at increased risk of getting sinusitis. An abnormality in your nasal passage, like polyps, tumors, or a deviated nasal septum, can also raise your risk. You’re at higher risk if you smoke or are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke, or have a medical condition like cystic fibrosis or an immune system disorder like HIV/AIDS. You can reduce the likelihood that you will get a sinus infection by managing your allergies, avoiding tobacco smoke and air that’s otherwise polluted, and using a humidifier if the air in your house is dry. Be careful to keep your humidifier clean, so that it will not develop mold and make your condition worse. It’s also helpful to avoid upper respiratory infections by staying away from people who are sick, and washing your hands frequently with soap and water.

It’s rare for acute sinusitis to cause serious complications. It can lead to chronic sinusitis, with acute sinusitis flaring up from time to time. Sometimes the infection can spread, and this can be dangerous. A sinus infection can sometimes turn into meningitis, a serious infection that causes inflammation of the fluid and membranes surrounding your spinal cord and brain. If your sinus infection spreads to your eyes, it can cause problems with your vision that can, in some cases, become permanent. It’s rare, but sinus infections can also spread to the bones, causing osteomyelitis, or to the skin, resulting in cellulitis. That’s why it is important to seek medical attention if your sinus infection becomes severe.

If you need a doctor in Jackson, TN, you’ll find experienced, caring professionals at 45 Urgent Care. Since September of 2000, the co-owners of 45 Urgent Care have treated the residents of Jackson and west Tennessee for musculoskeletal conditions, focusing on physical medicine, chiropractic care, and rehabilitation. When we moved to our new location, we made the decision to bring superior health care to the community with a dual purpose facility, with Advanced Rehab and Medical and 45 Urgent Care providing two distinct health care options with the same goals. Striving to restore lasting enjoyment of life in and beyond our community, we provide innovative, collaborative healthcare with the goal of serving and empowering each patient to achieve optimal health. Call 731-554-0571, head to our walk-in clinic, or visit our website to schedule an appointment.