Sinus infections can cause a myriad of uncomfortable symptoms, including facial pain and pressure, stuffy nose, and headache. The condition is usually more of an issue of having the sinuses clogged and pressure being built up than from bacterial infection. Fortunately, there are several ways to care for a sinus infection at home that can help to bring relief.
Here are some tips to help you take care of a sinus infection:
• Sinus Rinses: Rinsing out your sinuses with a saline solution can help to reduce inflammation and clear out any mucus buildup. This can be done with a Neti pot or a sinus rinse bottle. It can feel unusual at first but is not painful and can be very effective.
• Peppermint/eucalyptus Oil Steam: Adding a few drops of peppermint and/or eucalyptus oil to a pot of hot steamy water and inhaling the steam can help to clear out your sinuses. Be careful that the water is not boiling/scalding and do not add too much oil at once as it can be overwhelming
• Decongestants: Over-the-counter decongestants can help to reduce swelling in the nasal passages and relieve congestion. I recommend pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) rather than phenylephrine (Sudafed PE)- note that you need to ask the pharmacist for pseudoephedrine as they keep it behind the counter. Afrin (oxymetolazone) is also highly effective. However, be sure to follow the directions on the package and do not take Afrin for more than a few days at a time.
• Antibiotics: In some cases, antibiotics may be necessary to treat a sinus infection. In particular, they are used when symptoms are not improving despite above measures or if there is involvement of the deep sinuses. Antibiotics should only be used if your doctor recommends them and you should always take the full course of antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
When to Seek Care:
If the symptoms of the sinus infection are severe or do not improve with the above treatments, it is important to seek medical care.
An emergency room should be visited if any of the following symptoms occur:
• High fever
• Severe pain or pressure in the face
• Persistent nausea or vomiting
• Severe headache
• Difficulty breathing
• Visual disturbances
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention right away. In conclusion, sinus infections can be quite painful but fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to help reduce the symptoms and take care of your sinus infection. If the symptoms do not improve with treatment or become worse, it is important to seek medical care right away.