During the overlap of cold and allergy season, it can be difficult to know whether you’re experiencing a virus, allergies or a sinus infection. Sinus infections, also called sinusitis, typically take hold as you’re getting over a virus or allergy attack and persist after respiratory symptoms have passed. They’re caused when the nasal cavities become swollen, inflamed and infected.
Chronic vs. Acute
It’s important to differentiate between chronic and acute sinusitis. Acute sinusitis lasts less than four weeks and is usually part of a cold or other respiratory illness. Chronic sinusitis lasts more than 12 weeks and/or continues to recur, sometimes due to the anatomy of the sinuses. Symptoms of sinus infections are largely the same whether the condition is acute or chronic.
There are many symptoms associated with sinus infections.
Pain in Sinuses
Perhaps the most telling sign of inflammation of the sinuses is pain. There are several sinus cavities in the face: above the eyes, below the eyes and behind your nose. Any or all can feel tender or painful during an infection. The pain may radiate to other areas, such as the forehead, nose, jaws, teeth and eyes.
Sinusitis causes the sinuses and nasal passages to swell, so you will probably experience congestion and have a hard time breathing through your nose during a sinus infection.
The combination of sinus pain and nasal congestion can radiate and cause a headache or trigger a migraine. Sinus headaches tend to be at their worst in the morning because fluids have been collecting all night long.
During a sinus infection, you’ll probably blow your nose often. Nasal discharge can be cloudy, green or yellow and is caused by drainage from the sinuses into the nasal passages.
In addition to draining into the nose, drainage can also make its way into the throat. This is called postnasal drip, and will likely cause you to have a cough, especially at night when you’re lying down to fall asleep and in the morning right after you get up. Postnasal drip can also cause your voice to sound hoarse.
For more information about sinus infections or to be evaluated by an expert ENT physician, call Topeka ENT today!