Chances are you’ve never heard anyone call a sinus infection “fun.” Whether from a cold or Covid, the congestion alone can be at least annoying if not downright painful. You may have to deal with a runny nose, headaches, aching in your upper jaw, or even a fever or bad breath. Even if you know it’ll all pass at some point, you’re probably anxious for some symptom relief. Most of the time, you can get it with pain relievers, decongestants, and over-the-counter nasal rinses from your local pharmacy. Sometimes, though, if it’s really bad or goes on for too long, you’ve got to get your doctor involved. Get yourself informed about your options for sinus treatments before you go so you can avoid potentially harmful side effects. You are, after all, in the driver’s seat, even if your nose thinks it’s the boss right now.
At-Home Sinus Treatments
Before you go to the doctor, though, consider these at-home sinus treatments to stave off or relieve symptoms:
The main way to relieve your symptoms is to reduce the inflammation in your nose and sinus areas. Nasal rinses do this by flushing away any excess mucus or irritants inside your nose. You’ll need a salt water solution you can make at home. Better yet, pick up a pre-made NeilMed Sinus Rinse in one of our stores. Special syringes, pots, or even suction mechanisms help to push the solution through your sinuses and flush out the bad stuff.
Sinus infections, sinusitis, rhinitis, or other sinus ailments can be caused by several different things besides colds and Covid. These include seasonal allergies or an elevated response to allergens. In those cases, products like Ortho Molecular’s Natural D-Hist are what you need. With certain botanicals, flavonoids, and antioxidants, this product supports immune balance in hypersensitive individuals and promotes normal viscosity of mucus.
When to See A Doctor For Sinus Problems
The Mayo Clinic recommends only seeing a doctor for sinus problems if you have
- Symptoms that have lasted more than a week or so
- Symptoms that worsen after seeming to improve
- A persistent fever
- A history of recurrent or chronic sinusitis
If you do see a doctor and he or she recommends medications after having evaluated you, they’ll likely fall into four categories:
Prescription Sinus Treatments
Maybe you hear the word “steroids” and think of the kind of steroids that some athletes misuse. These are not those steroids. They’re man-made versions of hormones normally produced by the adrenal glands, and their purpose is to reduce inflammation. Corticosteroids are usually sprayed directly into the nose. The symptoms they’re best at relieving are sneezing, runny nose, or congestion. Your doctor should prescribe the lowest dose possible for the shortest amount of time of any corticosteroid. This is because long-term, systemic use of corticosteroids has been linked to complications like an increased risk for diabetes.
Here’s where you hope your nose and sinuses will humble themselves and respond well to treatment. If they don’t, that means you might be developing chronic sinusitis or have allergic or non-allergic rhinitis, rhinosinusitis, nasal polyps, or allergic fungal rhinosinusitis. This means you and your doctor will need to consider other treatments, such as endoscopic surgery, to avoid long-term use of corticosteroids.
The CDC reports that antibiotics are generally not needed for sinus infections. They say, in fact:
Most sinus infections usually get better on their own without antibiotics. When antibiotics aren’t needed, they won’t help you, and their side effects could still cause harm. Side effects can range from minor issues, like a rash, to very serious health problems, such as antibiotic-resistant infections and C. diff infection, which causes diarrhea that can lead to severe colon damage and death.
Sinus infections can happen when fluid builds up in your sinuses, allowing germs to grow. Viruses, fungi, or bacteria can cause these infections. The only reason an antibiotic might need to be prescribed is if a bacteria is at the root of your sinus infection. Your doctor will know the best ways to determine both the cause and the treatment.
If your doctor hesitates to prescribe any antibiotics, it’s likely because:
- They want to give your immune system more time to fight off the infection.
- Antibiotics, if taken for too long, can not only cause antibiotic resistance, as mentioned above, but also deplete the good bacteria in your gut. This can give rise to chronic gastrointestinal issues if you don’t also attend to your gut’s probiotic and prebiotic needs.
So if you do take an antibiotic sinus treatment, take it for the full time prescribed, even if your infection clears up before then. And take care of your gut regardless, with our gut health products.
Did you know that, more than 20 years ago, the Mayo Clinic revealed that fungi are present in almost all chronic sinusitis patients, and even in healthy people? Um…ew? This stirred up quite the controversy as scientists debated whether that was truly the case. The development of a drug that treated all chronic sinusitis cases as if they were caused by fungi only fueled the debate. Rest assured, though, that if your nose refuses to accept traditional steroidal or antibiotic treatment, or surgery, you still have options. Amphotericin B, that controversial antifungal drug, could be your magic nasal spray or lavage if your symptoms are indeed fungal-based. If it’s not, however, you can still consider:
- Other antifungal medications
- Corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and pressure
- A medically-administered nasal wash in which your doctor uses a saline solution to cleanse the sinus cavities.
- Surgery–either traditional or minimally invasive endoscopic surgery. They insert a long, flexible tube with a camera into your nose and use tiny tools to remove the fungus, fungal ball, and any damaged tissue.
The Short of It
The point is that, no matter the cause of your sinus problems, you’ve got solutions. Whether you choose the DIY or pharmaceutical way, or a combination of both, you can find relief. In fact, even if you get several sinus infections a year, you’ll likely find relief through a combination of our Neilmed Sinus Rinse and an antibiotic, steroid, or antifungal. Just make sure that, if you take medication, you do so strategically. Corticosteroids, antibiotics, and antifungals are effective, if taken for the right reasons, for the right amount of time, and in the right way.