Sinusitis is the infection of the sinus that is caused by either a viral or bacterial infection. Sinusitis typically occurs when excess mucus develops or there is a blockage to the sinuses. The causes of excess mucus or blockage to the sinuses can be from an active cold, allergies, a deviated septum, or the cilia not working properly, which are the small hairs in your sinuses that help move mucus out. There are two forms of sinusitis, which are acute and chronic. Acute sinusitis is a sinus infection that last anywhere from ten days to four weeks depending on the severity. Chronic sinusitis lasts longer that acute sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis is an ongoing infection that may show signs of improvement but then may reoccur within a short or long time frame. Both acute and chronic sinusitis can be in the form of a viral or bacterial infection.
Viral Sinus Infections
Viral sinus infections are the most common type of sinusitis. Viruses that cause the common cold are usually the reason for the sinus infection. The symptoms of a viral sinus infection typically last up to seven to ten days. The first few days your symptoms will worsen and after about the fifth day you may start to see improvement. These types of sinus infections generally go away on their own with rest and vitamin C. The symptoms you may experience while having a viral sinus infection are headaches, congestion, low fever, nasal discharge, and trouble sleeping. If your cold is lingering around and does not runs its course naturally you may actually have a bacterial sinus infection. Learn the signs that indicate your cold may be a bacterial sinus infection. Viral sinus infections do not require antibiotics. When you experience any type of sinus infection it will more than likely be a viral sinus infection.
Bacterial Sinus Infections
Bacterial sinus infections are less common than viral sinus infections. It may be difficult to tell the difference between bacterial and viral sinus infections because they share common symptoms.
In some cases a viral sinus infection can develop into a bacterial sinus infections. This occurs when bacteria multiplies in fluid-filled sinus pockets. Bacterial sinus infections may also resolve on their own but may require antibiotics to fight off the bacteria. Signs that your viral sinus infection has increased to a bacterial sinus infection are a noticeable increase in the severity of symptoms or failure to get better after seven to ten days. Some common symptoms of bacterial sinusitis are worsening congestion, more severe facial pain, and thickening or increase of nasal discharge. Bacterial sinus infections can also return shortly after your symptoms have healed, making you think, why do I keep getting sinus infections? If your nasal discharge or mucus is thick, dark, and/or greenish-yellowish, you may have converted to a bacterial sinus infection. Evaluation by your doctor can determine whether or not you have a bacterial or viral sinus infection. If your symptoms show no sign of improvement after ten days it is safe to say you have developed a bacterial sinus infection.
Viral vs Bacterial Sinus Infections Treatment
There are treatments available to help cure and heal your symptoms of sinus infections. As discussed earlier viral sinus infections typically do not require antibiotics. The best treatment for a viral sinus infection is plenty of rest and drinking fluids. You can take decongestants to help clear your sinuses. Viral sinus infections heal on their own with time while the virus runs its course through your body. There are some simple home methods you can learn to help reduce sinus inflammation as well.
On the other hand, bacterial sinus infections sometimes but not always may require antibiotics to fight of the bacteria that have formed. Both types of sinus infections require rest and consumption of fluids, which are the main components to natural remedies of a sinus infection. If you feel you may have a bacterial sinus infection that is not going away it is best to visit your doctor to be properly diagnosed and be provided the best treatment, which may or may not include antibiotics. In some cases, people will experience multiple episodes of acute sinusitis as well as chronic sinusitis and may require an evaluation from a sinus and nasal specialist. If you are experiencing reoccurring or constant sinus infections, it may be in your best interest to see an ENT (Otolaryngologist) and discuss alternative treatments to help improve your sinus function.