Sinus infections (known as sinusitis, or acute rhinosinusitis) usually occur after viral infections such as the common cold. When they occur frequently, they can be have a significant impact on quality of life. The patient usually experiences a worsening of their cold symptoms after a few days, with fever, yellow/green nasal discharge, facial and dental pain and nasal blockage.
A wide range of information about sinus conditions is available in the new "EPOS for Patients" booklet.
Management of sinus infections
Most of the time, antibiotics do not make a significant difference to how quickly sinusitis resolves. Medications such as painkillers, nasal decongestants and nasal steroid sprays can be used to improve the symptoms while the infection resolves. A high fever, thick nasal discharge and severe pain lasting more than 10-14 days may indicate that antibiotics are needed.
What if I get sinus infections frequently?
There can be many reasons why an individual has a tendency have recurrent sinus infections. It can be helpful to see a specialist who has expertise in diagnosing and treating sinus disorders. An examination of the nasal cavity is performed to identify any underlying inflammation that might be contributing to the problem. Blood tests may be performed to check for vitamin deficiency or immune system problems.
Some patients benefit from nasal steroid sprays in the longer term to prevent sinus infections or make them less frequent. If this does not work, some patients benefit from endoscopic sinus surgery, sometimes including balloon sinuplasty. This surgery opens the sinuses more widely and allows them to drain more freely.