What happens when sinus infections are frequent or long-lasting?
If you are one of the millions of Americans who have suffered through painful sinus infection symptoms then you understand how they can bring your quality of life to an abrupt halt. A sinus infection can negatively impact every aspect of daily life. When you are awake you may experience fatigue, difficulty breathing, headache, and facial pain that make it difficult to focus at home and at work. They can steal the joy of time spent with friends and family and minimize performance on the job and hobbies. Even when you are finally able to sleep you cannot escape the severe sinus infection complications. They prevent you from enjoying the benefits of restful sleep and contribute to serious health problems that come from sleep deprivation.
Recurring or lasting sinus infections are also known as chronic sinusitis. Although the symptoms may be the same as an acute infection, serious sinus infection dangers are possible and professional treatment is critical to avoid further medical complications.
Will a sinus infection go away untreated?
The human body is an amazing collection of complex systems that work together to keep you healthy. The sinus cavities may not get a lot of attention, but they play a critical role in some of the most important bodily functions. They help you communicate through speech or song, they regulate air temperature and humidity to assist in breathing, they also produce and drain mucus to fight infection. The sinuses work together with other systems in the ear, nose, and throat to keep your body at peak performance.
When these systems are working properly, they are able to effectively prevent and fight against bacteria, fungus, and viral infections. Because of these self-healing properties, the body is able to clear up most sinus infections on its own. Researchers estimate that more than 75% of sinus infections will improve or clear on their own within 7 - 10 days. However, for those sinus infections that are frequent or lasting, the long-term health implications are serious. Major health complications are not common, but could include abscesses or brain infections.
Even if you avoid these rare complications, standard symptoms can have devastating consequences for your quality of life. Headaches, facial pain, congestion, fatigue, sleep loss, drainage, and bad breath may seem “normal” to someone suffering from a sinus infection, but they can cause havoc in areas such as:
- Workplace Performance: A lack of focus due to fatigue and pain can lead to serious consequences at work. These include a lack of advancement, late arrival, increased workplace accidents, poor performance reviews, and a loss of employment.
- Academic Success: These same symptoms often result in a lack of focus at critical learning and testing times. Grades can suffer and long-term academic consequences can result from a simple sinus infection.
- Relationship Difficulties: Headaches, pain, and fatigue often take an early and difficult toll on personal relationships. These symptoms make it difficult to focus on partners, children, and other family members. They can strain friendships and contribute to conflict.
- Loss of Fulfillment: Sinus blockage symptoms take away enjoyment from the things that make life most fulfilling. Hobbies such as sports and music are difficult to continue when breathing and pain are controlling your life. Adventures such as dining and travel lose their joy when you have difficulty smelling and tasting. The simple joys of gardening, fishing, or even going to the movies become less enjoyable when headaches, congestion, and nasal discharge are a constant part of life.
What is the best treatment for sinus infection?
For those who suffer chronic sinusitis, the symptoms of sinus infection are easily recognizable. Viral, fungal, and bacterial sinus infection symptoms can feel very similar. Because we share common symptoms, it is easy to believe that all sinus infections are the same and all sinus infections have similar treatments. The truth is, your sinus infection is unique and your treatment should be customized to meet your specific needs, achieve your individual goals, and fit within your budget.
The best treatment for your sinus infection is the one that is designed specifically for you. The most successful physicians understand this and take a comprehensive approach to design a treatment plan that makes use of a wide variety of tools. Depending on your health condition and your unique needs, these tools may include:
Home Remedies for Sinus Infections
The internet and retail stores are full of products that claim to be “natural cures for sinus infection”. Many of these claims are not backed up by science and some of these products can pose significant risk to your health. However, there are effective home remedies for sinus infection and cough along with other symptoms. A successful comprehensive treatment plan may include proven home remedies. Explore home remedies and speak with your physician to see if they should be included in your treatment plan.
Sinus Infection Antibiotics
It is a common misconception that antibiotics are a first-line sinus infection treatment. These medications can be an effective tool when appropriate, but they do not help fight viral or fungal infections. They are not successful when sinus infections are the result of allergies, cold, or flu. Antibiotics also do not address the root cause of a sinus infection which is the inflammation and blockage of the sinus passage. For bacterial infections, antibiotics can help the body fight off a difficult infection, but are not a long-term solution. When used correctly, antibiotics are a safe, effective, and powerful tool against bacterial infections. It is important to seek treatment from a qualified ENT professional to be sure that antibiotic treatment is appropriate.
Sinus Infection Medications
Sinus infection medications such as decongestants, nasal sprays, and corticosteroids have an appropriate place in a treatment plan, but only when used correctly. These sinus infection medications, especially when taken over-the-counter, are often misused. Sometimes medication is taken that does not actually treat the correct symptoms. Medications are not a long-term treatment strategy for chronic sinus infections. It is important to consult a qualified ENT to decide when and how to use any over-the-counter or prescription medication.
When a recurring sinus infection is the result of a physical abnormality such as nasal polyps or a deviated septum, traditional endoscopic sinus surgery may be an appropriate option. These procedures are completed in a hospital or surgical center and involve permanent removal or bone or tissue to clear passages and restore the natural flow of air and mucus.
In 2005, a revolutionary treatment method for recurring sinus infections was developed. Balloon sinuplasty or balloon sinus dilation was a technological breakthrough that has a 95% success rate, low risk of complications, and provides immediate and lasting relief. This gentle procedure is highly effective even when fighting against severe sinus infection symptoms. Sinuplasty is safe, effective, and affordable. Its astounding success and safety record have made it a popular solution for patients and doctors. Insurance companies and Medicare understand the cost-benefit of sinuplasty and it is generally approved when deemed medically necessary. Discover more about this permanent solution for sinus infection.
Sinus Infection Solutions at Cumberland Valley ENT
Our professional team has built a reputation of excellence in Hagerstown, across Washington County, and throughout the Cumberland Valley. Since 1978, our board-certified physicians have been known for their commitment to exceptional, compassionate medical care. We use the most advanced technology and bring world-class treatment to friends and neighbors in our community. We understand that sinus infection, allergies, sleep disorders, tonsillitis, hearing loss, dizziness and other ENT conditions are all interrelated. Our training and experience in all aspects of otolaryngology allow us to provide the best ENT treatment to children and adults of all ages.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment. We will take the time to understand, diagnose, and explain your sinus infection treatment options and work together with you to develop a customized treatment plan that gives you lasting relief.