Sinuses 101 and How to Treat a Sinus Infection 

treat a sinus infection

From southern hospitality to strong family bonds, Texans have so many things to be proud of. But one thing that Texans can do without is Texas allergies. Molds, pollen, and cedar fever wreak havoc on folks throughout the year. Emergency rooms become busy during peak allergy seasons: one of the most common complaints we see in the ER is sinus pain and infection. Because not everyone can make it to the ER, let’s take a look at how to treat a sinus infection and learn what sinuses actually do for you. 

What Is the Purpose of the Sinuses?

You have two pairs of sinuses, which are air-filled cavities that help to circulate, humidify, filter, and warm the air we use through our nose.

Why Are Sinus Infections so Common?

Twelve to fifteen percent of Americans get recurring sinus infections. That’s because the lining of the nasal cavity is the first to become inflamed. Once it becomes inflamed, it blocks mucus that needs to be drained from the sinuses. This blockage can lead to an infection that can last up to three weeks (acute) or even  months (chronic).

How Can You Tell If Pain Is From the Sinuses?

It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between a cold and a sinus infection. But you can usually tell by the kind of pain or pressure you’re feeling. Sinus pain can appear in different parts of the head, depending on which sinus is infected: 

  • Maxillary/Cheek Sinus – pain can present in cheeks and can even be mistaken as a toothache
  • Ethmoid Sinus – pain typically presents between the eyes or behind the eyes
  • Frontal Sinus – pain appears in the forehead
  • Sphenoid Sinuses – pain presents in the back of the head, or even in the teeth 

How Do You Treat a Sinus Infection?

When you feel a sinus infection coming on, you can start by treating the symptoms first. Stores carry plenty of over-the-counter decongestants and topicals you can choose from. A saline rinse using distilled or boiled water (that has cooled down) can help flush the mucus out. If your symptoms don’t get any better or get worse after ten days, you should seek medical attention. A doctor will be able to prescribe antibiotics or suggest particular treatments for your specific case.