July 12, 2019

Prolonged Cold and Flu Symptoms May Mean You Have Sinusitis

Dealing with the common cold can be no fun, but at least it is usually short and temporary. What happens when your cold symptoms just don’t seem to disappear? Symptoms that go beyond the sniffles and body aches like persistent stuffiness, facial pain, pressure around the nose, cheeks and eyes, or postnasal drip (where nasal mucus trickles down your throat), might signal a sinus infection.

Also known as sinusitis, a sinus infection is nothing to shrug off. The quicker you can find treatment, the quicker it will heal. A sinus infection occurs when there is inflammation or irritation of the lining of the air cavities in the bones around your nose and eyes. The blocking of these drainage sites for the sinuses causes you to feel pain and pressure. Although symptoms sometimes go away on their own, leaving more severe cases of sinusitis untreated can cause serious pain and more complicated issues.

Acute Sinusitis or Chronic Sinusitis?

People suffer from either acute sinusitis or chronic sinusitis. Acute sinusitis often occurs after a cold and can stick around from two to four weeks. Although the infection may clear on its own, it may be necessary to see an ear, nose and throat doctor to get the right treatment if your symptoms persist or you’ve seen them getting worse.

With chronic sinusitis, symptoms are often the exact same as acute, but can last indefinitely or become a recurring issue. Symptoms such as nasal congestion, pressure in your face and partial or complete blockage in the nasal cavity, post-nasal drainage, cough or sore throat can all appear with both acute and chronic sinusitis.

Treatment For Sinusitis

So, how do you go about treatment? For acute sinusitis, some over-the-counter medications like decongestants and nasal sprays can help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms. In more severe cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to help treat the infection.

Bottom line, if you’re dealing with symptoms for more than three weeks, you may have chronic sinusitis and it might be time to schedule an appointment with a specialist at Puget Sound ENT.

For most, prescription medications coupled with over-the-counter medication, if needed, can help clear the infection and alleviate symptoms. In more severe cases, surgery may need to be an option. Rarely recommended for acute sinusitis, surgery can help alleviate chronic symptoms that have not been helped by other treatments. The most common type of surgery is endoscopic sinus surgery, where a pencil-sized scope is inserted to see the inside of the nose and sinuses to allow infected mucus to be cleaned from the sinuses.

One of the newer options available, which can be useful in certain, well-defined cases is called Balloon sinus ostial dilation (BSOD). For this less invasive treatment, an endoscope is employed but a balloon is used to make the sinus openings larger instead of cutting nasal bone or tissue. Recovery is typically quick with one study showing most patients were back to their day-to-day within just two days of treatment.

Want to learn more about acute and chronic sinusitis? Click here.