One of the most common conditions that patients seek medical care for is a sinus infection. The uncomfortable pressure, tenderness and lack of oxygen able to pass through your nose is experienced by 31 million people in the U.S., according to the American College or Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. To prevent a trip to the doctor’s office, it’s important patients understand how to prevent a sinus infection.
Sinuses are a system of connected hollow spaces in your head that link to the nasal passages via small channels. Sinus infections occur when fluid is trapped in the sinuses, interfering with drainage and causing mucus to build up, which allows germs to grow. Usually caused by a virus, to diagnosis someone with a sinus infection requires an examination of the throat, nose and sinuses. Your doctor may look for nasal obstruction, difficulty breathing through your nose, and pain and swelling around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead.
Patients can take the necessary steps to prevent a sinus infection including:
- Practice good hand hygiene
- Avoid close contact with people who have colds or other upper respiratory infections
- Avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
- Use a clean humidifier to moisten the air at home
- Work with your doctor to manage your allergies to keep symptoms under control
Although a doctor must examine you to determine if you have a sinus infection, most people don’t need to see a doctor. The infection, in most cases, will resolve itself within a week to 10 days. If you’re experiencing symptoms longer than 10 days, contact your doctor to get examined, as you may require additional attention.