Suffering from sinus infections is unpleasant and painful; the addition of tooth pain makes it all the more uncomfortable. Home treatments often help relieve pain and clear up the problem, but sometimes it’s necessary to see your doctor.
Acute and Chronic Sinus Infections
Sinus infections occur when the nasal passages become swollen, infected, and inflamed. This is often caused by a virus, but can also be caused by bacteria or even occasionally fungus. Allergies, tooth infections, nasal polys, and other conditions can add to sinus pain too. Acute sinus infections last for a short period of time, less than four weeks; chronic sinus infections last longer than twelve weeks or reoccur frequently. The symptoms are similar for both types of infections, and visiting your doctor is the best way to determine the cause of the infection and the best method for treatment.
Sinus Infection Symptoms
Pain is common with sinus infections. There are several different sinuses around your eyes and behind your nose, any of which can hurt and ache with dull pressure due to inflammation and swelling in the area. You may experience pain on either side of your nose, in your forehead, between your eyes, or in your teeth and upper jaw; you may also feel like your teeth hurt sinuses. Other common symptoms of sinus infections include:
- Nasal discharge – The infected sinuses drain into your nasal passages, causing you to blow your nose frequently. This discharge can be yellow, green, or cloudy.
- Postnasal drip – Discharge from your sinuses can also drain down your throat, feeling like an itch, tickle, or sore throat. It often can make you cough at night and in the morning when you get up.
- Nasal congestion – Swelling from the infection in your sinuses and nasal passages restrict air flow through your nose, making it difficult to breath through your nose.
- Sinus headache – Swelling and pressure in your sinuses make you feel like you have a headache. You may also experience dental pain, earaches, and pain in your cheeks and jaw.
- Throat irritation – Postnasal drip can cause throat irritation, especially if it continues long term. This often results in an annoying and persistent cough that can make it difficult to sleep. Propping yourself upright so your head is elevated can help.
- Sore throat – As postnasal drip continues to cause throat irritation, you may experience an aching, raw throat and a hoarse voice.
When to Visit Your Doctor
It’s time to see your doctor if you experience nasal discharge, fever, facial pain, or congestion for more than ten days or if your symptoms keep coming back. Fever is not normally a symptom of sinus infections, but can occur and is often a sign of an underlying condition.
Treatment for Sinus Infections
Treating sinus infections focuses on getting rid of the excess of mucus filling your nasal passages. There are a number of home treatment options, as well as treatments that your doctor can prescribe; below are common treatment options:
Drink fluids – Water helps decrease mucus buildup and hydrate the mucus membranes, so drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
Use steam – A peppermint steam solution or a steamy shower help relieve pressure because both steam and peppermint help reduce pain and congestion.
Eat spicy foods – Chili peppers, horseradish, and other food with a kick have mucus-thinning properties that can provide relief. Check with your doctor to find out which foods will work the best and how to avoid anything that could cause more harm than good.
Use a nasal decongestant spray – These sprays help provide relief from symptoms, but should only be used short term. Limit your use to three days or less; longer use sometimes causes rebound symptoms, making nasal congestion worse.
Use a steroid nasal spray – This type of nasal spray, including triamcinolone, fluticasone, and mometasone, can help reduce nasal congestion. Triamcinolone and fluticasone nasal sprays are currently available over-the-counter and don’t have risk of rebound symptoms with prolonged use.
Use an expectorant – Expectorants help drain mucus and should always be used according to package directions. Talk to your doctor if your symptoms remain after the prescribed usage.
Try antihistamines and decongestants – These over-the-counter medications can help with sinus infections, especially for people who also suffer from allergies. People with prostate issues, high blood pressure, difficulty sleeping, and glaucoma should typically not take decongestants, so talk to your doctor before trying these medications.
Rinse your nasal passages – Nasal irrigation helps rinse discharge from your sinuses, flush allergens, and relieve dryness. Use a sinus rinsing system and distilled or boiled and cooled water to avoid the risk of infection.
- Hum yourself to sleep – One of the best things you can do to increase your body’s resistances is get enough sleep. With a painful sinus toothache sleep can be difficult, but the vibrations from humming can help relieve the pain enough to allow you to fall asleep.
Position your head – Sleeping or resting with your head propped up provides for better drainage.
Use antibiotics – If all other methods fail to improve your symptoms, then your doctor may prescribe you antibiotics.
Handling Tooth Pain
If you have a sinus infection, you may feel like your teeth hurt sinuses to make the situation worse. This is because your maxillary sinuses are located above the molar teeth roots; as pressure builds in the sinuses due to infection, it puts pressure on the dental nerve endings and causes tooth pain. Dealing with excess mucus using the treatment options above is the best way to get rid of the pain, but using a product like Oral Essentials sensitivity toothpaste can bring relief to the area and make brushing your teeth more comfortable.
Prevention of Sinus Infections
Avoiding exposure to things that irritate your sinuses and nasal passages can help reduce sinus infections. Cigarette smoke is a common irritant that damages natural protective elements in your mouth, throat, nose, and respiratory system. Allergies can also cause persistent sinus symptoms that may contribute to sinus infections. Controlling your allergies can help prevent repeated infections. Another important preventative step is washing your hands frequently to reduce the risk of bacteria or viruses on your hands infecting or irritating your sinuses. This is especially important during cold and flu season.
Sinus infections are painful, but the outlook is usually good with proper care and medication. Beginning treatment promptly and seeing your doctor when needed helps improve your chances for a full and speedy recovery.
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