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What Are the Treatments for Chronic Sinus Infections?

by Brad McHargue
  • Overview

    A chronic sinus infection, also known as chronic sinusitis, occurs when the sinus cavities become inflamed, resulting in an accumulation of mucus. It is typically considered chronic if it recurs or lasts longer than eight weeks. Treatment involves alleviating symptoms, eliminating inflammation and treating the underlying condition, if any. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.
  • Symptoms

    Chronic sinusitis presents with a variety of symptoms, most of which last longer and are more severe than symptoms associated with acute sinusitis. Common symptoms include a discharge down the back of the throat and the nose that is thick and yellow or green. At times it can become thick enough to obstruct the passage of air through the nose. Pain may be focused around the nose, cheeks, eyes and forehead, as well as a dull ache in teeth and jaw. Other possible causes include fatigue, nausea, sore throat and bad breath. If you experience any of these symptoms, or if they become severe, consult your physician immediately.
  • Treatment

    Chronic sinusitis is difficult to treat, and the best course of treatment is different for everyone. The primary methods include nasal corticosteroid sprays, which work by reducing inflammation and clearing the nasal passages, and over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen, which are used to alleviate pain. Congestion can be treated through over-the-counter decongestants such as Sudafed, which can come in a variety of forms such as gel caps, nasal sprays and tablets. Severe cases may require a prescription of prednisone, taken orally. These should be taken with caution, as they can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting and headache. In rare cases, the infection may be bacterial in nature and the primary course of treatment is antibiotics. Examples include amoxicillin and doxycycline, and they are typically taken for approximately two weeks, though sometimes longer depending on the severity of the infection.
  • Lifestyle Treatment

    Symptoms of chronic sinusitis can be alleviated with simple lifestyle treatments. Congestion can be treated through the frequent consumption of fluids, which works by diluting the secretions and promoting drainage. Warm compresses applied to the eyes can reduce puffiness and alleviate facial pain, while your nasal passages can be cleaned out through the use of a neti pot or bulb syringe filled with warm water. One of the best ways to treat any illness is with plenty of bed rest. When you sleep, do so with your head elevated to allow your nasal passages to drain, effectively using gravity in your favor.

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