How do I know if I have a sinus infection?
When you have allergies, a cold, or another respiratory illness (like the flu), your nasal passages become clogged. When nasal passages are blocked, bacterial overgrowth can occur in your sinuses, causing a sinus infection. Your sinuses are air-filled spaces behind your forehead, cheeks, nasal bones, and eyes.
Sinus infection symptoms include:
- Facial pressure, pain, or tenderness
- Thick and colored mucus/snot
- Sore throat
- Bad breath or loss of smell
- Tooth pain
In more severe situations, a sinus infection can cause dizziness or vertigo-like symptoms. When your sinuses can’t drain properly, it can cause fluid to build up in areas like your nose, throat, and ears. This can disrupt body parts (like your Eustachian tubes) that help you maintain your balance and, as a result, make you feel dizzy.
Are sinus infections contagious?
Sinus infections are not contagious. However, the viruses that cause sinus infections are contagious. Viruses like the flu or common cold can be passed to another person. So, if you’re sick, you can pass those germs to someone else, but that doesn’t mean they will get a sinus infection.
How long can a sinus infection last?
Most sinus infections last 7 to 10 days and go away on their own with rest, hydration, and the use of a neti pot or other nasal irrigator. However, if you experience symptoms longer than 10 days or repeatedly get sinus infections, you should seek medical care.
Sometimes, even with treatment, sinus infections can last up to 12 weeks or longer. This is known as a chronic sinus infection. You may get repeated sinus infections before an infection becomes chronic.
Should I go to urgent care for a sinus infection?
Yes! An urgent care clinician can diagnose and provide a treatment plan for a sinus infection. Depending on your infection, a provider may prescribe antibiotics to treat your sinus infection. If your infection isn’t bacterial, you will receive a different treatment recommendation, as antibiotics are not used for viral sinus infections.
If your infection is viral, your provider may recommend nasal decongestant sprays, topical nasal corticosteroids, or an antihistamine. Note that the combination of over-the-counter prescription drugs should be used with caution and taken as advised by your healthcare provider.