Sinus Infections Fogging Up Your Day? Here’s When to See an ENT

Here’s what to watch out for when over-the-counter treatments aren’t up to snuff.

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Whether it comes with the turn of the leaves or a snap of Mother Nature’s fingers, seasonal allergy sufferers know that any change in weather can make their sinuses act up. What if your sinus infections are chronic—will over-the-counter treatment cut it? If not, you might be wondering when it’s time to see an ENT doctor to treat your never-ending sinusitis.

Is Feeling Stuffy All The Time Normal?

If you vaguely point to the front of your face when you’re feeling sinus pressure, you might be surprised to know that your sinuses are actually several air pockets in your skull. They frame your eyebrows, the bridge of your nose, nostrils, and more.

Normally, a healthy respiratory system allows for mucus to clear out germs. However, if you create too much mucus, or if there are other blockages to your airways, then there’s a better environment for bacteria or viruses to go. This may happen from a cold, fungus, deviated septum, or nasal polyps or bone spurs.

There are three types of sinusitis:

  • Acute (lasting one to four weeks)
  • Subacute (lasting one to three months)
  • Chronic (lasting more than three months)

Most acute inflammations should clear on their own with a little self-care. It may require antibiotics from your doctor, or just treatments to relieve your symptoms.

Symptoms of a sinus infection may include:

  • Facial pain
  • Postnasal drip
  • Stuffiness
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Bad breath

Here’s When You Should See Your ENT for Sinusitis

If symptoms of a sinus infection continue (especially if you’ve finished prescribed antibiotics), or you develop fever, fatigue, or change in vision, it’s time to head to a specialist.

Otolaryngologists are commonly known as ENTs (ears, nose, and throat doctors). They will be able to perform both nasal cultures and allergy, ciliary function, and blood tests for immunosuppression.

If you don’t have nasal polyps that require surgery to open your airways, or require allergy shots, you may be tempted to rely on nasal spray decongestants. However, you shouldn’t use them for more than three to five days. (They can actually worsen your symptoms after that!)

There are some more homeopathic remedies and tips to relieve your sinus symptoms, or prevent them:

  • Use a facial warm compress or inhale steam daily
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Get a humidifier
  • Try a Netipot or saline squeeze
  • Avoid smoke or polluted areas
  • Don’t fly during an infection

Sinusitis may seem tame, but it’s always a good idea to visit your doctor. Respiratory complications could eventually lead to (or indicate):

  • An abscess
  • Bone infection
  • Meningitis
  • Skin infection
  • Immune disorders

If you’re all stuffed up, heading to your doctor is nothing to turn up your nose to.