When Does a Sinus Infection Require Urgent Care?

While a minor sinus infection does not require a trip to urgent care or indicate a reason for significant concern, a more severe sinus infection in which the symptoms become intolerable or last for an extended amount of time may need medical assistance for the underlying cause of the sinus infection to be appropriately treated.

During a sinus infection, it is essential to keep an eye on the symptoms and come in for a visit to our urgent care facility in the event the symptoms become intolerable or no sign of improvement is noticed after more than a week. At our urgent care facility, we can efficiently and effectively diagnose and treat the underlying cause of your sinus infection.

While prevention is the best way to handle a sinus infection, it is not always possible to prevent, especially when caused by the common cold. Therefore, it is essential to know exactly what to do if a sinus infection develops.

If you or your child develop a sinus infection that becomes concerning for any reasons, do not hesitate to come in for a visit or give us a call to find out the next step to take. There is no appointment needed, and we promise you quick and effective care here at our urgent care facility.

Facts from The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
  • A bad cold is often mistaken for a sinus infection as many of the symptoms are the same.
  • A sinus infection close to the brain can be life-threatening.
  • Allergies can play a significant role in chronic or seasonal sinus infections.
  • Knowing what kind of bacteria is causing the infection can lead to more effective antibiotic treatment.
  • There are two primary forms of sinus infections: acute and chronic.
  • Sinus infections caused by a virus should last less than two weeks.
  • Antibiotics help eliminate a sinus infection by attacking the bacteria that cause it.
  • Some people have bodily defects that contribute to sinus infections.
Questions to Ask Your Urgent Care Provider
  • What diagnostic procedures did you use to determine I have a sinus infection?
  • Are there any lifestyle changes I can make to minimize the risk of developing a sinus infection in the future?
  • Is surgery an option to relieve my sinus infection? Is the surgery process invasive?
  • Are there any complications that can arise by not treating a sinus infection?
  • Is my sinus infection acute or chronic?
  • Am I contagious? What should I do to prevent others around me from getting infected?
  • Have you treated similar cases of sinusitis? What is the prognosis?
  • How common are sinus infections?
  • What was the cause of my sinus infection? What can I do to prevent it from happening again in the future?
  • Is there anything I can do to manage my symptoms until I recover?
  • What home remedies can I implement to relieve the symptoms of my sinus infection?
  • What should I do if my symptoms do not improve from treatment?

Causes and Symptoms of a Sinus Infection

Sinus inflammation, also known as sinusitis, is a condition where the nasal passageway becomes inflamed due to an infection or allergies. There are two different types of sinus infections: acute sinus infection and a chronic sinus infection. Acute sinus inflammation can be caused by another condition or infection, such as the common cold or allergies. A chronic sinus infection has a much more complicated diagnosis and almost always requires medical assistance to keep under control.

The two leading causes of an acute infection are either a bacterial infection or a viral infection. While they are similar, bacterial infections have a different treatment procedure than a viral infection, which is why it is essential to get the diagnosis right. Bacterial infections that cause sinusitis are far less frequent than a viral infection.

Depending on the severity of the sinus infection, as well as the cause and type of sinus infection, the symptoms differ. Nevertheless, several more common symptoms apply to almost every case of sinus infections, these include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Facial pain
  • Cough
  • Sinus pressure

The very first symptoms that you may experience with a sinus infection are nasal congestion and runny nose. You may need more advanced treatment that can only be prescribed by a medical professional.

Additionally, almost all sinus infections include a headache, which can range from mild to extremely severe, and uncomfortable facial pain. There is no way to eliminate these symptoms without treating the cause or allowing the body to fight it off naturally, although medical assistance can help speed up the process of recovery.

Treatment Options for a Sinus Infection

If your symptoms become a severe cause for concern (see below), you may need to visit our urgent care for additional treatment. Upon entering our urgent care facility, the first thing we will do is an assessment. There are several common tactics performed to try and diagnose a sinus infection, which include a detailed examination into your nasal passageways.

After diagnosis, there are several treatment options available, and the exact treatment method decided upon is based mainly upon the cause of the infection. In the event the sinus infection is caused by a bacterial infection, it can be treated (in most cases) with antibiotics, which is often the most successful method used. However, antibiotics do not work for viral infections. Instead, antiviral medications are likely to be given for viral infections such as the cold.

One of the main reasons for sinus inflammation is allergies, which is a condition where the immune system rejects a substance it deems harmful. If allergies are determined to be the cause of the sinus inflammation, a steroid spray can be prescribed. The nasal spray should help reduce the severity of the reaction, which ultimately allows the sinus inflammation to stay at a tolerable level.

Regardless of the medical treatment that is given for the sinus infection, there are over-the-counter medications that can also be taken to help deal with the symptoms, which include:

  • Decongestants
  • Allergy medicines
  • Nasal spray
  • Pain relievers
  • Steroids

To find out what over-the-counter medication is best for your sinus infection, talk to our staff about all of your options. With proper symptom management and long-term treatment, a sinus infection should not last for more than a week. If it continues for more than a week, consider coming in for a visit to find out why and for further treatment.

Sinus Infection Home Remedies and Prevention

Along with treatment, specific home remedies can help you improve faster and keep the symptoms at a tolerable level for the duration that the sinus infection exists. Also, you can even give yourself a better chance to prevent obtaining an acute sinus infection altogether with proper lifestyle changes in place.

For home remedies, rest and eating healthy is the best way to recover promptly. When the body is fighting off a sinus infection, or any infection for that matter, it needs proper rest and nutrients to do so. With that said, there are several quick, easy things to do while you rest, such as:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Use a warm compress
  • Clean out your nasal passageway
  • Elevate your head while sleeping
  • Place a humidifier in your home
  • Take hot showers

Ultimately, it comes down to the focus on relieving the pressure built up in your sinuses. The best way to do that is to keep your nasal passageway from getting clogged. Using a warm compress, placing a humidifier in your home and elevating your head while resting is all excellent tactic to implement to keep the nasal passageway clear and breathing easily.

So how do you prevent a sinus infection from occurring in the first place? While it is not always possible to avoid, there are precautions you can take to help minimize your risk, including:

  • Receiving a flu shot
  • Keeping your distance from others who are sick
  • Planning for an allergy attack
  • Practice good hygiene

The best way to prevent a sinus infection is to practice a healthy lifestyle, which means continuously washing your hands throughout the day. Additionally, receiving an annual flu shot before the flu season begins is another way to minimize your risk. If you have allergies, planning for an allergy attack by limiting time outdoors during allergy season and getting an allergy shot when needed can significantly reduce the chance of the onset of a sinus infection.

When to Seek Urgent Care for a Sinus Infection

Most minor sinus infections get better on their own without the need for medical treatment. More severe sinus infections, however, require urgent care.

First and most importantly, it is important to seek urgent care for a sinus infection if the symptoms begin to worsen or last for an extended amount of time. In the event you have severe trouble breathing due to your sinus infection, then be sure to come in for a visit as soon as possible to have your sinuses cleared out. Also, keep a close eye on your symptoms and seek medical attention if they do not improve after a week.

Additionally, urgent care is highly encouraged if your child develops a sinus infection as they have less of an ability to fight off the infection quickly. Also, it can be much more challenging to diagnose the cause of the sinus inflammation in children. In some cases, the reason could be due to an underlying allergy that you were not aware about.

When you visit, expect us to thoroughly examine you or your child’s symptoms and document any information that is relevant to make a proper diagnosis. It may be helpful for you and your child to make a list of all of the symptoms that you or your child has been experiencing, any medications that are currently being taken and any allergies that may exist. Also, consider any questions you may want to ask the doctor at your visit.

The medical professional that examines you is likely to ask a series of questions to try and learn more about the scope of the infection, including asking about medical history, how severe the symptoms are and any lifestyle events that may have lead to the onset of the sinus infection, after which treatment will be administered.

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