What are sinus infections?
Sinus infections, also known as sinusitis, are caused by inflammation in the sinus cavities. Inflammation in the nasal and sinus cavities occurs for many different reasons. Allergies, a deviated nasal septum, multiplying of a virus or bacteria are just a few of the causes. Sinus infections affect 30 million Americans every year and are responsible for billions of dollars in medical expenses. Common symptoms of sinus infections are congestion, green or yellow or gray nasal discharge, post nasal drip, headaches and facial pain. Allergies also play a role in your symptoms and in many cases will cause or worsen the symptoms of the infection. Now you may ask yourself: “Why do I keep getting sinus infections?” There is no simple answer to this question but there are reasons that they recur again and again. The main cause is inflammation in your nose. Bacteria and viruses may cause the body to defend itself and release inflammatory factors that make the nose swell. Exposure to dust or pollen or pet dander can cause allergic reactions that inflame the nose. Some people have a weakened immune system that is unable to fight off a virus or bacteria.
Acute sinus infections, those lasting or worsening over 10 days, may require antibiotics to resolve. If you are prescribed antibiotics, your should complete the full course of medication because your body is fighting off the infection. Even though you may feel better after a few doses of antibiotics, the bacteria need to be reduced to a level where your body can handle them. Lastly, if you keep getting sinus infections and are taking the same medication every time, the bacteria can become resistant to the antibiotics and can be ineffective. Now that you have an understanding of some of the causes for the recurrence of sinus infections, let’s discuss some healthy habits you can get into to help avoid sinus infections.
Routines to Avoid Getting Sinus Infections
Avoid over-exposure to household products
There are avoidance routines that you can carry out that may help prevent another sinus infection from reoccurring. Always try to avoid contact with cigarette and cigar smoke from people around you. Another way is avoiding common household products, like hairspray and cleaning products that give off fumes or strong odors. Fumes are known to be irritants to your sinuses and can make your sinus problems worse. You can also avoid exposure to very dry environments. If possible, try to avoid mass transportation, by bus, train and air. When traveling an enclosed area with many people, bacteria and viruses commonly spread and dry air increases the rate they enter your nose. Air travel can also cause significant pressure and blockage to your sinuses. Avoid extended periods of swimming pools with chlorine and activities such as diving if you are prone to sinusitis. Chlorine in the nose irritates the lining of the sinuses and nose. Diving may force water into the sinuses from the nasal passageways. These are some or the ways you can avoid the recurrence of sinus infections or from having the worsening of existing infections.
Routines to Set
Routines to set can be equally as important as routines to avoid. Creating positive habits can reduce the effects and likelihood of recurrent sinus infections. One way is by drinking plenty of water every day. Hydration is important not only for your immune system, but also to keep your mucus thin and fluid. Daily saline washes can hydrate your nasal cavities, help clear excess mucus and intranasal debris, and assist in draining your sinuses. Breathing warm and moist air from the shower or a humidifier can improve your sinus function as well. Some over-the-counter medicines, like allergy medicines, decongestants, and pain relievers can help alleviate sinusitis symptoms. Taking vitamin D and making sure your body has sufficient levels of vitamin D is important because people with low vitamin D levels may have a greater chance of developing an infection including pneumonia or bronchitis. Sleeping with your head in an elevated position can assist mucus drainage. Some of these healthy routines can help make your sinuses better and possibly reduce the recurrence of sinusitis.
Seek Advice from a Sinus Specialist
In conclusion, you should both avoid and set routines in your daily habits to help keep your sinuses healthy. Even the best behaviors may not completely control an ongoing sinus problem. In some cases, surgery may be required to control or eliminate the recurrence of sinus infections. If you suffer from sinusitis, consult a sinus doctor to evaluate your sinuses to understand your options. Every case of sinusitis can be unique and may require care designed just for you. It is important to seek advice from a sinus specialist if you have recurring or chronic sinus infections.