Acute Sinusitis

Acute sinusitis (a sinus infection) is often starts as a cold and cough and eventually settles in the sinuses. Although headache is common with a cold, sinus headaches are more specific. Headaches with acute sinusitis tend to be in the front , under the eyes or in the low forehead. They tend to be worse with bending over as id to tie the shoes or when laying on the back. There is often post nasal drip associated with acute sinusitis as well.

Acute sinusitis can be caused by a viral infection or allergies but they are also commonly caused by bacterial infections. Sinusitis caused by allergies tend to have more runny, itchy nose symptoms and more sneezing. Allergic sinusitis also tends to have an identifiable trigger such as a pet or a particular weather pattern. Many people suffer from allergic sinusitis on windy days. Allergic sinusitis does not need antibiotics and they will not help . It is often difficult to tell the difference between a sinus infection caused by a virus and a bacteria. Viral infections do not require antibiotics but bacterial infections do. Because of the difficulty telling the difference between a viral or bacterial sinusitis, antibiotics are often used empirically if a bacterial infection is suspected.

The mainstay of treatment for sinusitis is over the counter medications and home remedies. A hot shower or a steam bath can help break up the congestion in the sinus cavities allowing them to drain and improving symptoms. Hot fluids such as soup and tea can have similar beneficial effects. Ibuprofen is an excellent pain reliever for sinus headaches. Decongestants such as Sudefed can be very helpful to decrease the sinus congestion that causes pain. Cough medications that are designed to thin out and break up mucus such as Mucinex or Robitussen can also be helpful. If the sinusitis is caused by allergies antihistamines  such as Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra are the drugs of choice. These decongestants have a “D” variety such as Claritin D, that combine the antihistamine with Sudafed, this combination can be an excellent choice for allergic sinusitis. Although Sudafed is over-the-counter, it is often kept out of reach. You simply need to ask the pharmacist and they will get it for you, a prescription is not needed.

Once treated, acute sinusitis usually is much better after 2-3 days. If the symptoms are not improving it is probably worth while to see your doctor to be re-evaluated.