How Do I Know It’s Sinus Infection?

Posted on June 2, 2021

Well, most people do know when a bout of sinus infection is heading their way. It’s a common problem and for many it becomes almost a frequent issue every year. Sinus infections can be quite debilitating and generally remain with the individual for at least 7 to 14 days. It’s no fun having the infection nor is it any fun to suffer the many symptoms associated with the disease.

If you are new to this area of common ailments, you might like to read on to get a little more in depth information on how its diagnosed.

How is sinus infection diagnosed?

Diagnosis depends on symptoms and requires an examination of the throat, nose and sinuses. Your allergist will look for:

  • Redness
  • Swelling of the nasal tissues
  • Tenderness of the face
  • Discolored (greenish) nasal discharge
  • Bad Breath

If your sinus infection lasts longer than eight weeks, or if standard antibiotic treatment is not working, a sinus CT scan may help your allergist diagnose the problem. Your allergist may examine your nose or sinus openings. The exam uses a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and a light at one end that is inserted through the nose. It is not painful. Your allergist may give you a light anaesthetic nasal spray to make you more comfortable.

Mucus cultures: If your sinus infection is chronic or has not improved after several rounds of antibiotics, a mucus culture may help to determine what is causing the infection. Most mucus samples are taken from the nose. However, it is sometimes necessary to get mucus (or pus) directly from the sinuses.

Knowing what kind of bacteria is causing the infection can lead to more effective antibiotic therapy. A fungus could also cause your sinus infection. Confirming the presence of fungus is important. Fungal sinus infection needs to be treated with antifungal agents, rather than antibiotics. In addition, some forms of fungal sinus infection – allergic fungal sinus infection, for example – do not respond to antifungal agents and often require the use of oral steroids.

Your allergist may consider ordering a sinus CT. This test can help to define the extent of the infection. Your allergist may also send you to a specialist in allergy and immunology. The specialist will check for underlying factors such as allergies, asthma, structural defects, or a weakness of the immune system.

Biopsies: A danger of more serious types of fungal sinus infection is that the fungus could penetrate into nearby bone. Only a bone biopsy can determine if this has happened. Biopsies involving sinus tissue are taken with flexible instruments inserted through the nose.

Biopsies of the sinus tissue are also used to test for immotile cilia syndrome, a rare disorder that can cause people to suffer from recurrent infections, including chronic sinus infection, bronchitis and pneumonia.

In it’s earliest stages of mild to moderate sinus problems, your GP may recommend a simple over the counter treatment to try and relieve the symptoms. You may also want to discuss the problem with your pharmacist since there are numerous non-prescription options available.

Another course of action is complementary therapies such as herbal medicines or remedies. Explore these options understanding that you need to get good advice before choosing a product for your particular needs. Not all complementary products will provide relief and it’s important to select your medication based on reliable data.