Sinus Infections

How to Know If Your Sinus Infection Is Severe

December 28, 2016

3 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

A sinus infection is the inflammation of the air cavities in the nose and other areas of the face. It is primarily caused by allergies, other infections and irritation to the sinuses. Sinus infections do not spread from person to person, but they often go along with a common cold, which is contagious.

What Are the Symptoms?

Some infections last a short amount of time, while serious infections can last for weeks. Most have similar symptoms, though the severity can vary.

Here are a few things to watch for:

  • Pain: You will feel pain below your eyes and nose and around your head in general.
  • Sinus Discharge: Watch the color that comes from your nose when you blow it. Infected sinuses will put out a green-yellow discharge.
  • Congestion: Inflamed sinuses will prevent you from breathing through your nose.
  • Headache: The pressure and swelling of the sinuses will give you a headache.

What are the Treatments for a Sinus Infection?

If you have a simple sinus infection, your doctor might tell you to use saline nasal washes and decongestants. You will not want to use over-the-counter medications for more than three days or they might make you more congested.

Severe sinus infections are generally treated with antibiotics that you will need to take for 10 – 14 days. You want to make sure you complete the dose of prescribed antibiotics, even if you start to feel better. The sinus infection can reappear quickly if you don’t finish the medication.

It will take a few days for any medication to take effect. In the meantime, it is a good idea to use a humidifier. Warm, moist air can help alleviate your symptoms as you wait for the medication to kick in. You can also use a warm compress on your head and face to ease the pain in those areas.

Can I Prevent Sinus Infections?

If you get quite a few infections, you know how miserable they make you, and you want to avoid them if at all possible. There are a number of things that could trigger the infections, and there are things you can do to avoid them. Here are a few options.

Take Antihistamines

If you have allergies, your doctor might want you to take antihistamines, which can help alleviate nasal congestion that can turn into sinus infections later.

Take Antifungal Medicine

If fungus is creating infections in your sinuses, you can take antifungal medication to clear them up so you do not get more infections in the future.

Get Immunoglobulin

If you have immune deficiencies, you will want to get immunoglobulin to help you fight irritants that your body has reactions to.

How Do I Prevent Sinus Infections?

There are other lifestyle items you can adhere to in order to avoid these uncomfortable infections. There is no guaranteed way to prevent the illness, but if you do these things, you are less likely to get sinus infections.

  • Don’t smoke. Avoid people who smoke.
  • Wash your hands often, especially during cold and flu season.
  • Try not to touch your face in order to avoid distributing germs from your hands to your mouth.
  • Stay away from known allergens.

Do I Need Sinus Surgery?

If your sinus infections are severe and frequent, balloon sinuplasty could be the right treatment option for you. If you’re considering a balloon sinuplasty, contact Kaplan Sinus Relief at (713) 793-6422 or request an appointment online.


4101 Greenbriar Street, Suite 320

Houston, TX 77098