When your nasal cavity becomes inflamed and swollen, you likely have a sinus infection, also known as sinusitis. As many as 30 million Americans are afflicted with sinus infections every year. Some common symptoms noticed are a cough, sinus discharge, sore throat, congestion, facial pain, and headaches. Recurrent sinusitis plagues many people, which can take a heavy toll on your social life, sleep, work and life in general. Inform yourself of some of the causes and treatment methods for a healthier life.
Why Do I Keep Getting Sinus Infections?
The truth is there are many different reasons you may be suffering from recurrent sinusitis. If you are repeatedly being diagnosed with sinus infections, go to see a sinus specialist. Some factors that may contribute to sinus infection include:
1. Deviated Septum
A crooked or deviated septum can block or obstruct your sinus openings, leading to chronic sinusitis. A person can be born with the condition or it can be caused by an accident such as a sport injury.
2. Nasal Polyps
These teardrop shaped growths will also obstruct your nasal cavity. They develop in sinuses or nasal passages and if enlarged, they can narrow the openings, causing recurrent sinusitis.
3. Small Sinus Openings
You may have inherently been born with smaller sinus openings that are prone to poor drainage and blockage problems.
4. Allergic Rhinitis
This is triggered when your immune system has an overreaction to allergens or particles in the air. These allergies can cause your nasal passages to get congested and inflamed, causing recurrent sinusitis.
5. Medical Conditions
Some medical conditions can cause inflammation to the airways as well as constant thick mucus. These include AIDS, diabetes, Kartagener’s syndrome, hypothyroidism, Wegener’s granulomatosis, cystic fibrosis, etc.
If left untreated, acute sinusitis can cause real damage to your mucous membranes, thus making the problem become recurrent.
How to Treat Recurrent Sinus Infections
If you are wondering “why do I keep getting sinus infections?” you are likely to look for different ways to treat them as well. The following will give you some pointers to start with.
1. Home Remedies
The good news is that you will likely be able to manage the symptoms of sinus infection on your own. There are many practical ways to help relieve pain and minimize your congestion.
- Salt water rinses for your nose and sinuses can help keep the nasal area moist and flush out debris and thick mucus. This can also help reduce swelling.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids so your mucus will stay thin and keep flowing.
- Hot compresses and steam can be used to loosen up stubborn mucus.
- Use a clean humidifier to keep your air moist.
- Get plenty of rest. If you find yourself wondering “why do I keep getting sinus infections?” you may not be catching up on your rest.
2. Medical Treatment
There are a variety of medical treatments that may help you with your sinusitis. Consider the following:
If your doctor thinks bacteria may be the reason why you keep getting sinus infections, he/she may prescribe antibiotics. For acute cases, you may be on them for 10-14 days but with chronic sinusitis it will be longer. They will only help if the problem is bacterial, so be cautious. Also watch for the overuse of antibiotics.
Many who get sinus infections will find relief in OTC medications like acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Use as indicated and do not exceed 10 days.
These medicines can help to decrease the mucus in your nasal passages. They can offer relief in the form of nasal sprays or pills. They should not be used for more than three days or you could become more congested.
- Allergy Medications
There are many sinusitis cases that stem from uncontrolled allergies. If you have never been diagnosed with allergies you may want to look into it. Avoiding your triggers and using antihistamine can help. A longer term option is trying allergy shots to help you become less sensitive.
There are some cases in which your doctor may prescribe inhaled steroids to help with your sinus membrane swelling. In particularly tough cases, you may need to take steroids orally.
Why do I keep getting sinus infections? It has been answered. In the cases where medicines aren’t proving effective, sinus surgery may become an option. There are three different types to consider.
This is necessary when nasal polyps or other non-cancerous structural abnormalities in the lining of your sinuses and nose obstruct the passage. Polypectomies are performed to remove these and clear the airway.
- Turbinate Reduction
These curled and spongy structures can be found inside the nose along the walls. If they become swollen and enlarged, they block the airway. Radio frequency energy can be used to reduce these by shrinking the swollen tissues.
- Balloon Sinuplasty
With this procedure, a tiny catheter balloon is used to help enlarge sinus openings, allowing normal sinus drainage.
How to Prevent the Recurrence of Sinus Infections
One important thing to do is to avoid the flu and colds and treat any issues quickly.
- Enjoy a diet that is rich in veggies and fruits. They are full of antioxidants and other important nutrients that will help to boost your body’s immune system.
- Get a flu shot yearly.
- Keep your stress reduced.
- Wash hands regularly, especially when in public.
- Stay well-hydrated to keep your fluids flowing.
- If there is a respiratory infection, take decongestants.
- Avoid irritants like smoke. Treat allergies appropriately and quickly.
- Use a humidifier to put moisture in the air.
- Saline sprays and other washes for your nose will help to move mucus and allow you to breathe easier.
- Avoid swimming for long periods because chlorine can be an irritant.
- Avoid diving; this can force water into the sinus and cause infection.