If you’re among the 37 million Americans who suffer from sinus problems, you know just how miserable the symptoms can make you feel. The congestion. The facial pain. The postnasal drip-drip-drip.
Summer often brings a bit of a respite, as the cold viruses that trigger most cases of sinusitis are less active in warm weather. And, experts say the sinus problems that do crop up in summer can often be avoided -- if you take these six precautions:
Chronic sinusitis lasts several weeks and can linger for years. Its cause can be hard to pin down -- and hard to treat.
Sinusitis might start because of a cold or allergies. Fungus can cause it for people who have weak immune systems.
Sometimes, chronic sinusitis is due to problems with the structure of the nasal passages, or a growth such as a nasal polyp that keeps the sinuses from draining normally.
Acute and chronic sinusitis have similar symptoms:
Facial pressure and pain
Thick discolored mucus
The key is to figure out the cause. For instance, if your sinusitis is due to allergies, then decongestants alone will probably not help much.
If you have symptoms for more than a couple of days, check in with your doctor. With a good exam -- and sometimes imaging tests, like X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs -- you may be able to figure out exactly what's causing the problem.
Often, the best sinusitis treatment is a combination of different approaches -- typically medication plus self-care.
Antibiotics. If your doctor thinks a bacterial infection is to blame, he may prescribe antibiotics. For acute sinusitis, you may take them for 10-14 days. For chronic sinusitis, it might be longer.
Antibiotics only help with bacterial infections. They won’t help if your sinusitis is caused by viruses or other problems. Some studies suggest that bacteria cause very few cases of the condition and that antibiotics are widely overused.