Nearly everyone will experience symptoms of a sinus infection some time during their life. Also known as sinusitis, it affects 10 percent to 30 percent of Americans each year. Sinus infections occur when bacteria build up inside the nasal and sinus passages, causing these areas to swell. Like other common infections, they typically subside without the need for medical assistance.
In some people, however, symptoms of a sinus infections can linger for weeks or months while causing bodily distress in the process. If you experience sinus problems, you should learn the symptoms of a sinus infection so that you can better treat it.
Most Common Symptoms of a Sinus Infection
Normally, mucus is clear and transparent. When it turns green or yellow, it may indicate a sinus infection. Dark mucus isn’t the result of bacteria buildup. Rather, mucus darkens during a sinus infection because of the immune system’s response. When you experience a sinus infection, your immune system transports white blood cells to your sinuses where they can fight the infection-causing bacteria. As these white blood cells accumulate in your sinuses, they turn the mucus to a darker color, typically green or yellow.
In addition to becoming darker, mucus also becomes thicker during a sinus infection. The combination of bacteria and white blood cells change the consistency of mucus. Unfortunately, this intensifies the effects of a sinus infection as mucus is unable to drain from the sinuses.
As your mucus thickens, it becomes trapped in your sinuses where it encourages bacteria to thrive. This is why most healthcare practitioners recommend blowing your nose frequently when you experience any infection affecting your upper respiratory system. Allowing mucus to accumulate in your sinuses creates the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.
The human body is constantly producing mucus to line and protect the upper respiratory system. It’s one of the body’s first layers of defense against infection. Neither it nor any other natural defense, however, is 100 percent effective. If bacteria enters your sinuses and is able to thrive, it will lead to an infection while prompting your body to produce more mucus. Depending on the severity of your infection, you may go through an entire box of tissues each day.
Many people experience a sore throat during a sinus infection. The throat isn’t part of the sinuses, but a sinus infection can still cause problems here nonetheless. When you experience a sinus infection, mucus may not be able to drain out your nose. Instead, some of it will drain down your throat. This causes throat irritation and soreness while also leading to chest congestion.
Headache and Facial pain and pressure
Another common symptom of a sinus infection is facial pain, pressure and headache. Statistics show that up to 90 percent of Americans experience headaches. While most headaches are not sinus-related and are caused by tension or migraines, some are caused by excessive sinus pressure attributed to an infection.
Sinus infections cause your body to produce more, thicker mucus, thereby hindering your body’s ability to naturally drain mucus from the nasal passages. As mucus builds up inside your sinuses, it creates pressure that paves the way for throbbing sinus headaches. Traditional over-the-counter painkillers may offer some relief of sinus headache pain, but you may really need to treat the root problem, a sinus infection, to achieve long-lasting relief.
Symptoms of a sinus infection doesn’t just affect your head; it can affect your entire body. Similar to the way in which your body responds to a cold or flu infection, a sinus infection prompts your body to produce more white blood cells. Also known as leukocytes, they account for just 1 percent of all blood flowing through your body. White blood cells are essential to your health, however, because they attack bacteria and viruses to eliminate and protect against infection. A common side effect of this process is body-wide malaise. If you experience a sinus infection, your body may feel sore and achy because of its elevated levels of white blood cells.
There are ways to treat a sinus infection. Corticosteroids, for instance, are designed to partially suppress the immune system’s inflammatory response. They weaken your body’s reaction to the bacteria to reduce sinus inflammation and other symptoms associated with an infection.
If your sinus infection is caused by bacteria, antibiotics may be prescribed. These drugs specifically fight bacteria in the body, allowing for shorter and more effective recovery from sinuses infections. Often treatments will be prescribed or suggested to treat the underlying source of a patient’s sinusitis. Medications to take down associated nasal and sinus swelling nasal steroids, nasal antihistamines, oral antihistamines, oral anti-leukotrienes. Over the counter saline, mucolytics, and decongestants may also be suggested to help provide symptomatic relief.
On occasion, surgery may be recommended for individuals suffering from chronic sinusitis and recurrent infections. Blocked sinuses that do not respond to medical therapy may benefit from being opened or enlarged. Traditional sinus surgery (FESS) as well as balloon sinuplasty are surgical procedures designed to open blocked sinuses.
If chronic symptoms of a sinus infection interfere with your life, you may consider contacting Becker ENT Center to learn more about their sinusitis treatment services. With medical centers in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, they’ve helped thousands of sinus sufferers live better. To learn more, visit website today at www.beckerent.com.