Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How long do sinus infections last?"
Is it possible for a sinus infection to last a long time? Longer than two weeks? What can help relieve the pain?
It is possible for a sinus infection to last longer than 2 weeks. You should see your primary care physician for evaluation to ensure that your symptoms are a sinus infection and to discuss management options. Sinusitis, also known as rhinosinusitis, is caused by inflammation in the nasal and sinus cavities and can result in headache, sinus facial pain, nasal congestion, rhinorrhea (runny nose), and occasionally tooth pain. If the symptoms last for less than four weeks it is termed acute, between 4-12 weeks it is subacute, and greater than 12 weeks it is considered chronic sinusitis. It sounds like your infection has lasted about two weeks so is an acute infection. Acute causes included bacterial and viral (most common) infections. About 40% of cases of acute infection improve spontaneously without the use of antibiotics. 98% of viral induced sinusitis improve without treatment. Allergies can also play a role in sinusitis; so often treatment of nasal symptoms with allergy medications or decongestants can help with symptoms. Possible treatments to discuss with your physician include nasal irrigation, intranasal and oral steroids, antibiotics, allergy medications, antifungals, and occasionally sinus surgery (for recurrent or persistent sinus infection.) It is important to be followed by your physician because complications include meningitis, orbital cellulitis, and bran abscess. You should follow up with your primary care physician to discuss your symptoms and possible management options. Depending on your symptoms and previous history, a consultation with an Ear Nose Throat (ENT) physician should be considered.
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