Sinus symptoms are quite common. They are among the top ten diagnoses made by primary care physicians. Regardless, many people don’t understand what is happening with their sinuses when symptoms do occur, nor how they need to be handled. Here, we’ll discuss some common questions that should be considered.
Do sinus symptoms always indicate infection?
No. Sinus symptoms are often attributed to infection, but his is a mistake. A sinus specialist evaluates patients to understand whether their symptoms indicate acute sinusitis or chronic sinusitis.
- Acute sinusitis is inflammation within the sinus cavities. This could be caused by an upper respiratory infection, bacteria, or a common cold. This type of sinusitis is what we normally refer to as a sinus infection.
- Chronic sinusitis describes inflammation that persists for more than three months. This condition may be caused by non-infectious triggers, such as nasal polyps, asthma, or allergies.
Do sinus symptoms always need to be treated with antibiotics?
No, but they often are. Because sinus pain is commonly misdiagnosed as a general sinus infection (vs. chronic sinusitis related to other factors), many people are unnecessarily treated with antibiotics. This form of treatment is only useful in treating bacterial infection. If antibiotics are taken without a known bacterial infection, the treatment may create antibiotic resistance. Viral sinusitis, the most common scenario, typically runs its course in 7 to 10 days. Medical care should be sought if nasal discharge is discolored or lasts beyond 10 days.
Does chronic sinusitis require surgery?
Surgery is sometimes considered for patients with chronic sinusitis but this is not the only solution, nor is it always the best solution. Usually, we approach chronic sinusitis with non-invasive modalities such as nasal sprays or allergy treatments. In our St. Louis office, chronic sinusitis may also be treated with balloon sinus dilation. This minimally-invasive procedure does not require downtime and typically achieves immediate improvement that can last years.
For people experiencing sinus symptoms, information is vitally important. A consultation with a sinus specialist can streamline the process of knowing exactly what is happening with your sinuses and what to do to resolve acute or chronic symptoms. To schedule your consultation with us, call 314.473.5433.