‘Tis the season for stuffy noses. As cold and flu season reaches its peak, you may be wondering how to combat some of the effects you feel from a stuffy or a runny nose. A good place to start is looking at some of the things that can help relieve the symptoms of a bacterial sinus infection.
Bacterial sinus infections may be hard to distinguish from viral sinus infections because they share common symptoms. Nasal congestion typically tops the list of symptoms, which also include yellow, green, or gray mucus and pain or pressure in your forehead or eyes.
A bacterial sinus infection is frequently thought to be no more than a common cold — that is — until it becomes quite uncomfortable and painful. You may not need to call off of work or school, but it still can have a major impact on your day. So, let’s take a closer look at what it is and some of the things you can do to battle your bacterial sinus infection.
What is a Bacterial Sinus Infection?
One of the simplest ways to describe it is “inflamed sinuses”. The medical term for a sinus infection is sinusitis, and the infection by the virus or bacteria in sinusitis produces an inflammatory response. Blood rushes to your nose, carrying inflammatory cells to fight the infection, which causes your sinuses to swell.
In addition to the congestion and sinus pressure you’ll experience, other symptoms include:
- Nasal Discharge
- Bad Breath
- Facial Pain
- Decreased Sense of Smell
Whether you’re dealing with a viral or bacterial infection you will feel some, or all, of these symptoms. Let’s find out how you can get some relief.
Alleviating Bacterial Sinus Infection Symptoms
The British Medical Journal published the results of a study recently that looked at the most effective treatments for nasal symptoms. Here’s what they found:
- For a stuffy nose take an analgesic (pain reliever) with a decongestant or a decongestant alone should help.
- If you’re battling a stuffy and runny nose, try an antihistamine with a pain reliever and decongestant.
- For sneezing, an antihistamine with a decongestant works best.
You may experience some side effects with some medications, but if you follow the recommended dosage, there is little to no risk. Talk to your doctor to be sure.
And remember, what works for someone else’s bacterial sinus infection may not work for you, so you may have to experiment.
Other Things To Try:
Take a Warm Shower
When your nasal passages are blocked, a warm shower can provide temporary relief because steam will moisten your sinus passageways. This is especially helpful when you’re feeling sinus pressure in your forehead. You may experience some temporary pain relief, too.
Nasal irrigation works by using a sterilized saltwater solution to force germs and mucus out of your sinus passages. You can buy pre-filled containers, use a solution and a bulb syringe, or a neti pot to get the water into your nose.
If you’re going to make your own solution, The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology suggests this recipe: Mix 1 cup of the cool sterilized water with 3 teaspoons of non-iodide salt and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Use non-iodide salt because iodide could irritate your nasal lining.
You may look a little funny, but you will feel better. The strips will hold your nasal passageways open and help you breathe a little easier. If you don’t want to wear them during the day, they can be especially useful at night.
If the symptoms of your bacterial sinus infection last longer than 7 to 10 days, you may want to contact your doctor to find out if antibiotics are necessary. Most of the time, even without antibiotics, you should start feeling better within a week or so.
It’s never too late to take preventative measures. Our guide: “How to Get Rid Of The Flu” can help. In it, you’ll find some things you can do decrease your risk of getting sick and how you can pick up on early symptoms.