The old adage is that misery loves company, and if you’re one of the millions of Americans struggling with chronic sinus problems, you can rest assured you’re not alone. Headaches, fatigue and a stuffy nose are signs that you may be on your way to developing sinusitis.
What are the most common sinus problems?
Sinus problems are usually the result of chronic allergies or sinusitis. This occurs when your nasal passages and sinus cavities swell, making it difficult for mucus to drain. The result is the stuffy, miserable feeling that many Triangle residents know all too well. Sometimes, sinuses become clogged because there’s a defect with the facial structure, such as a deviated septum.While symptoms may vary from person to person, the following are some of the most common problems caused by sinus infections:
- Nasal congestion
- Any pain around your eyes or forehead that gets worse when you bend over
- Thick discharge—often yellow or green—from your nose
- Earaches or ear pressure
- Jaw pain
While some may have a fever, this is not always present during a sinus infection. Only your internal medicine physician can determine an exact cause of your problems and create an appropriate treatment plan.
Three simple ways to relieve sinusitis symptoms:
1. CREATE A MOIST ENVIRONMENT<span “=””>
It’s important to keep your sinuses moist in order to help them drain. When they’re unable to drain, the backup of mucus can create a breeding ground for viruses. Follow these important tips:
- Use a saline nasal spray
- Be sure to drink plenty of fluids
- Take a hot shower and breathe in the steam
- Breathe steam from a bowl of hot water
- Purchase a home humidifier—this can help open your sinus passages
- Rest — this helps your body’s immune system
2. AVOID EXPOSURE TO ALLERGENS
Allergens such as pollen, pet dander and ragweed are often the cause of sinus issues. You can take steps to allergy-proof your home in order to avoid sinus problems before they start.
Often, over-the-counter medications are enough to relieve sinus symptoms. However, you should still take the following precautions:
- Carefully check the dosage directions to avoid taking too much.
- If you are purchasing medicine for your child, be sure you follow the instructions—some medications should not be given to children, and it’s vital to talk to your physician if you have any concerns.
- If you take herbal remedies, be sure these will not interact with the medication. If you have questions, you can ask your physician or pharmacist.
- Make sure your doctor is aware of all the medications you take, along with herbal remedies. This way, he or she can give you advice on what would be the best medication for you and how to avoid dangerous drug interactions.
- If over-the-counter solutions are not effective, your physician may write a prescription for a different medication.
Sinus problems typically do NOT need antibiotic treatment.
This is because sinus infections are typically caused by a virus and not bacteria. Roughly 9 out of 10 sinus infections in adults are caused by a virus.
When antibiotics are overused, bacteria become harder to treat. Each year, 2 million Americans are diagnosed with antibiotic-resistant diseases. As a result, 23,000 die annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
All of our Raleigh and Cary internal medicine physicians are committed to only using antibiotics when absolutely necessary.
Additional advice on sinus problems
Still struggling with sinus symptoms? If you need more useful information, check out our other educational posts: