Don’t let a sinus infection blow your day (or week)

It is that time of year. You thought it was just another cold, but this one just wouldn’t go away. The sinus pain and pressure gave you a constant headache. The over-the-counter cold remedies were powerless to give you any relief. All signs pointed to a sinus infection or sinusitis — it was time to see a doctor.

Otolaryngologist Cristine Klatt-Cromwell, MD, whose specialties include sinus disease and sinus surgery, explains, “Sinusitis is a condition in which one or more of the hollow cavities in your facial bones— the sinuses—become infected or inflamed. Infections may be caused by bacteria or fungus and may be related to allergic sensitivities.

Symptoms can include a headache upon waking, pain or tenderness in the sinus areas, swollen eyelids, runny nose and post-nasal drip. Other symptoms can include fever, bad breath, decreased sense of smell, fatigue and severe nighttime cough.”

While a sinus infection can go away on its own, you should contact your doctor if you have:

  • Symptoms that last more than a week
  • Symptoms that get worse after they started to improve
  • A persistent fever
  • A history or recurrent or chronic sinusitis

There are three types of sinusitis:

  • Acute – lasts for three weeks or less, and usually gets better without antibiotics
  • Chronic – lasts for thre e to eight weeks, but can continue for months or even years
  • Recurrent – several acute attacks during one year

Washington University sinus specialists can diagnose your sinusitis through a physical exam, evaluating your symptom history, and/or X-rays, a CT scan, MRI or a nasal endoscopy.

Once your type of sinusitis has been diagnosed, your physician will give you a treatment plan, monitor your progress and teach you ways to prevent sinusitis from occurring.

Dr. Klatt-Cromwell adds, “There are several things you can do at home to help relieve your symptoms. These include:

  • Getting plenty of rest to help your body fight the infection.
  • Keeping your sinus cavities moist to ease pain and help drainage — taking hot showers or breathing in warm, moist air from a bowl of hot water.
  • Rinsing your nasal passages. Using a specially designed squeeze bottle or neti pot can help clear your sinuses of mucus.

For more information or to make an appointment with one of our sinus specialists, please call 314-362-7509.

Ear, Nose and Throat Center
Center for Advanced Medicine
4921 Parkview Place
St. Louis, MO 63110

West County ENT
1040 N. Mason Road, Suite 123
Creve Coeur, MO 63141