Student Health Services Health News - Fall 2012
Each fall about 33 million Americans are diagnosed with sinus infections. You might think every one of those infections happens here in south Louisiana, since it’s so common. Sufferers are plagued with nasal congestion and discharge, sore throat and postnasal drip, fatigue, fever, headache, bad breath, and pain in their sinuses. So, what to do?
- To prevent sinus infections, treat your cold and flu symptoms early with over the counter medicines. If your nose is unblocked, your sinuses are less likely to get infected.
- If you have allergies, take your allergy medicines every day.
- Eat plenty of fruits and veggies and reduce stress to boost your immune system.
- Wash your hands often, try to stop smoking, and get your flu shot every fall.
- See your doctor if your symptoms worsen after 7 days, fever develops after you start to get better, headaches and facial pain are severe, or you have vision changes.
- A colored nasal discharge, even if it is yellow or green, does not necessarily mean that you need antibiotics. Antibiotics don’t work for viral infections, and sinus infections are usually caused by viruses.
Why not antibiotics every time? The short answer is the risk of resistance. Using antibiotics when they aren’t needed creates a population of bacteria in your body that is resistant to the antibiotic that was used, so that the next time you have a serious bacterial infection the antibiotic is less likely to work.
The good news is that sinus infections usually get better on their own within two weeks if you treat your symptoms and take good care of yourself. So, it turns out that for most people the best treatment for a sinus infection is to let nature take its course.