Sinuses are cavities present behind the cheekbones, forehead as well as in between eyes. The key function of sinuses is to make mucus; this substance supplies needful levels of moisture to your nose. Moistness is helpful in keeping away allergens such as pollen, dust, and other polluting substances like pet dander, fur, etc. Infection of your sinus leads to swelling of these cavities; a condition known as sinusitis. You may experience blockages of these cavities; such internal blocks are caused by allergies or the common cold. Can you take antibiotics to treat sinus infections? It is important to know more about this.

Sinuses help to keep your nose free from strands of bacteria; mucus made in these cavities plays a key role in draining out your nasal channels. When these cavities are filled with liquid, they may attract microbial strands. Once these microbes spread in the region, you are likely to witness sinus infections; this condition is also termed sinusitis. These infections may show up in any person. But, if you are already living with allergies in the nasal passages or living with chronic obstructive pulmonary disorders (COPD) such as bronchitis, asthma, etc., you are more likely to see these infections.

Oftentimes, it is quite difficult to differentiate between sinusitis and a cold. You need to stay aware that a common cold – if left untreated – may soon turn into a sinus infection. Also, signs of allergies – such as itchiness around your nose, sneezing frequently, runny nose, or congestion may also turn into a sinus infection. In adults, smoking tobacco products may cause these infections; among children (especially, babies), the use of feeding bottles or pacifying toys may lead to these infections. It is important to pursue a few good practices such as handwashing and other hygiene practices. In general, these practices can help you stay away from falling sick.

Diagnosis and treatment of sinus infections

You may need to be aware of the distinctive signs of sinus infection; these include post-nasal drips, green-colored discharge from your nasal pathways, feeling an increase in pressure level around your eyes / nasal region/forehead, etc., foul-smelling breath, fever, coughing and feeling excessively tired.

Diagnosis of sinus infections is done by a qualified healthcare professional. For a proper diagnosis, many questions are posed and details about your clinical history are gathered. A thorough physical examination is also done to check your nasal airways, ears as well as throat. Your doctor will check for signs of internal blocks, draining as well as inflammation. In some cases, a nasal endoscope is used; this instrument helps your doctor to look into your nose and its adjoining cavities. An ear, nose, and throat (ENT) consultant are equipped with the needful tools to diagnose the condition. In some rare cases, an imaging test is conducted; in such instances, a computed tomography (CT) scanning is done on your forehead and cheekbones.

Treatment of sinus infections is based on the severity of your condition. In case of a mild infection, your treating physician may administer cold medications, antihistamines (allergy meds), use of nasal decongesting drugs, intake of excessive fluids, etc. If your condition is a milder one, these treatments may be more than adequate. However, if your condition does not change for more than a week, an advanced treatment plan is prescribed. In such instances, your physician may prescribe antimicrobial drugs, nasal sprays (which are often steroid-based), or rinsing your nasal cavities with saline water.

Use of antibiotics for treating sinusitis/sinus infections

Sinus infections are mostly caused by viral attacks. The viral strands that cause sinusitis are the same as those causing the common cold. Most antibiotics have a very limited / nil impact on viruses. Hence, intake of antibiotic or antibacterial drugs may run the risk of triggering several other discomforts. Moreover, intake of antibiotics when there is no bacterial attack can lead to antibiotic resistance; so, when there is indeed a bacterial attack, these drugs may turn ineffective (due to this resistance).

Alternatively, you may find needful relief from facial massages, applying mild levels of pressure (known as acupressure), etc. In some cases, your caregiver may recommend sittings of acupuncture to obtain needful relief – this treatment plan is prescribed for treating chronic spells of sinusitis. For milder spells of sinusitis, you can use a warm / moderately hot compress (apply it on your forehead); you can also breathe into a steam-filled hot water bath. Ask your treating doctor about a few over-the-counter meds and store them at home.

Among OTC meds, younger adults, as well as children, can take pain-killing meds such as acetaminophen or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen. You may try aspirin but not for those who already have conditions like Reye’s illness or syndrome. Children who have such a condition (when administered with aspirin) may witness impairment of their hepatic wellbeing as well as cerebral health. For adults, cough / cold meds are often taken to treat sinus infections. Always remember that children (those aged less than 5 years) may develop near-fatal outcomes upon taking cold or cough drugs. It is a safe practice to talk to your caregiving team about all possible options available under the OTC as well as prescription genre.

Last but not least, you can pursue preventive measures to keep sinus infections away. Standard good practices include washing your hands regularly, never getting too close to people who have breathing problems – especially, those with problems in their upper respiratory tract; giving up smoking, and keeping away from people who smoke (because secondhand smoke can be equally dangerous); better still, make use of a humidifier to keep the air at your home moist and fresh.

In sum, sinusitis is triggered by viruses, and not by bacterial strands. Antibiotics are known to have limited capabilities to treat viral attacks. Hence, antibiotics or antibacterial meds are not commonly used for treating sinus infections. The use of such meds can cause undesired side effects and may make your system become antibiotic-resistant. Ask your caregiver about the type of meds that are best suited to treat sinusitis. Children (aged 4 or above) may be given milder doses of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. In the case of adults, cold medications are prescribed.
It is a safe practice to consult with your physician about OTC and prescription options. Above all, wash your hands periodically and also keep a distance from people infected with a common cold or flu.

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