Sinus Infections

What are the Symptoms of a Sinus Infection?

January 5, 2021

7 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

If you have cold-like symptoms that haven’t gone away after a few days, chances are you may be wondering, “What are the symptoms of a sinus infection?” Sinus infections occur when your sinus tissues become inflamed by a virus, bacteria, or fungi. These painful infections can lead to some rather bothersome symptoms that can leave you unable to enjoy everyday activities.

Let’s take a few minutes to answer the question, “What are the symptoms of a sinus infection?” and break down your sinus infection treatment options. 

How can you tell if you have a sinus infection? 

Sinusitis symptoms vary from patient to patient, and may change over time. In other words, the  early signs of a sinus infection you may experience might differ significantly from your neighbors and may change or worsen if your sinus infection goes untreated. 

  • Nasal inflammation and excess mucus: When you have sinusitis, your discharge will likely be thick and discolored. If you don’t have a sinus infection, the discharge should be clear.
  • Sinus headaches and facial pressure: Another very common sinusitis symptom is pain or pressure around your eyes, nose, and cheeks. This pain is caused by the combination of nasal swelling and congestion.
  • Congestion: Congestion can make it especially difficult to breath through your nose. It also comes with a slew of secondary symptoms, including snoring and post-nasal drip.
  • Sore throat and a cough:Post-nasal drip occurs when excess, thickened mucus drains down the back of your throat, causing a sore throat, cough, and nausea. Post-nasal drip often becomes more noticeable when you go to sleep and wake up in the morning.
  • Fever and chills: Having a fever or the chills with sinusitis is not entirely common — but it does happen. Usually, when you experience these symptoms during a sinus infection, it’s recommended to seek professional help as, in all likelihood, your sinus infection is severe.
  • Dental pain, ear infections, and more: Because your sinuses are located in various places around your head and face, and because your sinuses are connected to other internal systems in your body, you may experience other types of pain in connection with a sinus infection. For example, patients can experience sinus infections and dental pain simultaneously due to the pressure sinusitis can cause. And sinusitis and ear infections are sometimes linked when congestion and mucus build-up creates blockage issues within your ear’s eustachian tube. 

Though it has similar symptoms to the common cold, chronic sinusitis lasts a lot longer. It’s also important to note that untreated sinusitis symptoms can lead to further complications, so be sure to monitor your help and call a doctor if you are not getting better. 

How do you get sinusitis? 

Now that you know the answer to the question, “What are the symptoms of sinusitis?” you may be wondering how you might have gotten sick in the first place. Frankly, anyone can get a sinus infection. Although the “infection” part of the sinus infection is caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi, what creates the breeding ground for these infections can vary. 

Sinus infections are not rare, and many people get them for a variety of common reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Allergies: If you have allergies, you’re likely to have sinus problems and congestion due to your sinuses swelling when you breathe in allergens. Year-round allergy symptoms may benefit from balloon sinuplasty treatment for allergies.
  • Smoke: Smoking can stop the process your sinuses use to drain mucus properly, causing congested sinus pathways. Whether it’s exposure to first or secondhand smoke, the smoke will also make it harder for your body to fight off illness. Avoid smoke when you can. 
  • Asthma: Although many are not aware of this fact, asthma and sinus issues have been linked. Having severe asthma can make it easier to contract sinus infections while sinusitis makes asthma harder to control. Luckily, treating one will help control the other, so talk to your doctor about possible treatments for sinusitis and sinusitis symptoms. 
  • Nasal polyps: These soft, painless growths in your nasal passageways are usually a result of chronic inflammation from infections or allergies and can result in diseases like asthma. They also can make you more susceptible to frequent sinus infections. 
  • Deviated septum: Almost 80% of people have some sort of deviated septum, or misaligned nasal pathways with one side of the nose being more congested than the other. If you have frequent sinus infections, it’s likely you have a deviated septum.
  • Colds: Usually contracted from airborne or surface viruses, colds also cause the sinuses to swell. When the symptoms grow more severe and last much longer, it’s safe to assume a sinus infection has formed.  

There is no sure way to prevent sinusitis entirely, but taking cautionary measures, including washing your hands, staying away from smoke in the environment, and avoiding allergy triggers, can help.

Are sinus infections contagious?

If your sinus infection is a viral infection (as opposed to a bacterial sinus infection), you may be able to spread the virus. If your infection lasts longer than a week with no signs of improvement, it is more likely that you have a bacterial infection and will require professional help and antibiotics. Keep in mind that the best way to tell if you have a viral or a bacterial sinus infection is to your doctor. 

When should I go to the doctor for a sinus infection? 

Can a sinus infection go away on its own? Sinus infections can occasionally go away on their own. However, if your sinus infection is caused by bacteria, you will likely need antibiotics. If you have a viral sinus infection, then you don’t need antibiotics, which you will need to get from a doctor. (For more information, check out our article: Do I Need Antibiotics for a Sinus Infection?

If you have a severe sinus infection or chronic sinus infections, visiting a trusted sinus doctor can be hugely beneficial. Sinus doctors like Dr. Michael Kaplan can help you determine what is contributing to your recurring infections and offer you help in managing your symptoms. In some cases, they may recommend that you pursue additional sinus infection treatment, such as balloon sinuplasty or, in more extreme cases, sinus surgery. 

What if my sinus infections keep coming back? Sinus infection treatment at Kaplan Sinus Relief 

So, the next time you ask, “What are the symptoms of a sinus infection?” you will have more information at your fingertips! Sinusitis symptoms lasting longer than a week merit a doctor’s visit. Fortunately, if you experience frequent, long-lasting sinus infections and problematic sinusitis symptoms, then balloon sinuplasty in Houston may help. 

Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive and effective way to treat your underlying sinus issues, and can deliver lasting relief in as little as 20 minutes. We can help you treat your sinus infection and get you feeling and breathing better again in no time. 

Call 713-588-9987 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kaplan today! 

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