ZocdocAnswersHow can one tell if they have a sinus infection?

Question

How can one tell if they have a sinus infection?

What is a sinus infection, exactly? Is it the same as just having a cold that makes your nose stuffed up? Because that happens to me pretty much every cold season but I've never dealt with it as an 'infection', but now that I have a really horrible cold, I'm wondering.

Answer

Sinus infections are quite common, about 30milion people in the US each year suffer from symptoms of a sinus infection. A sinus infection, as the name implies, is an infection of the paired bony cavities of the face known as the sinuses. Almost all sinus infections in the general population are caused by viral illness, the same viruses that cause the common cold as well as the flu end up in the facial sinuses and create swelling and inflammation and viola, you have a sinus infection. Clinical symptoms associated with a viral sinus infection include: -nasal congestion -facial pain worse when leaning forward -sinus pressure (the main sinuses in your face are the frontal sinuses--located just behind the inner part of your eyebrow, and the maxillary sinuses--located on either side of your nose) Most sinus infections are self-resolving (like the common cold) and get better on their own in 7-10 days. however, in about 1-2% of sinus infections, the original viral infection creates a great environment for bacteria to set up shop and patient's end up with an acute bacterial sinus infection. This type of infection differs from a run of the mill viral sinus infection in the the course is longer than 7-10 days, spiking fevers is common, patients complain of tooth pain in the front teeth, and purulent nasal discharge is also common. Acute bacterial sinusitis should be treated with antibiotics. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with bacterial sinusitis (as listed above) you should immediately go see your doctor for further evaluation. hope this helps!

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