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How to Tell If Your Sinus Infection is Viral or Bacterial

January 10, 2017

When you’re suffering from a sinus infection, it can be difficult to focus on anything else. Between the congestion, headache and inflammation pain, you just want to feel better as quickly as possible. However, before you rush to the doctor to get an antibiotic, ear, nose and throat doctors recommend this advice: wait it out.

New guidelines released by the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation are encouraging sinus sufferers to wait and see if their symptoms get better on their own without the aid of an antibiotic.

Here’s why:

Most sinus infections are caused by viruses, which means an antibiotic isn’t going to help you feel better any sooner than simply giving your body time to heal. So, instead of rushing to the doctor to get medication you may not need, try taking this do-it-yourself approach to tell the difference between viral and bacterial sinus infections:

Viral Sinus Infections tend to get better on their own after a period of 10 days. If you are feeling better after 10 days, then your sinus infection is most likely viral and doesn’t need antibiotics.

Bacterial Sinus Infections may not improve at all in 10 days, or they may seem to be improving, only to then get worse. If 10 days go by and you aren’t feeling any better, it’s probably time to make an appointment with your doctor.

If 10 days seems like a long time to wait for antibiotics, consider this: Your body already has most of the resources it needs to fight off the infection. Antibiotics may help cure a bacterial sinus infection quicker, but the new guidelines say they might not be a necessary step.

So, what can you do to feel better in the meantime?

3 Ways to Treat Your Sinus Infection Symptoms

1. Take an Over-the-Counter Pain Medication

This can help relieve some of the pressure in your head and face.

2. Try a Saline Nose Wash

You can reduce your congestion by washing out mucus and also improve the health of your membranes.

3. Get a Steroid Nose Spray

If you have chronic sinusitis, a steroid nose spray can help with inflammation.

Tried everything and still not feeling better? Visit the Follow My Health Patient Portal to make an appointment with your doctor today.

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