Suffering with viral sinusitis? Beware Antibiotics. You need time.

Jennifer MillerPost by Jennifer Miller, FNP-BC, Health Partnership Clinic

It’s that time of year again, stuffy, runny noses, sinus pressure, low grade fevers and just feeling sick. Do you need an antibiotic or not? Do you need to go to see your health provider? You know you have a sinus infection. Do you need an antibiotic?

Most cases of sinusitis are caused by viruses, not requiring antibiotics.

The symptoms of viral and bacterial sinus infection are similar:

  • nasal congestion
  • thick, discolored nasal discharge, this can be white, yellow, or green
  • sinus pressure and facial pain that may worsen with bending over
  • teeth hurting
  • headache
  • decreased smell or taste
  • ear pressure or fullness
  • bad breath
  • fever less than 102 degrees

With viral sinusitis, the symptoms typically will resolve in 10 days. Often with bacterial sinusitis, the symptoms will seem to improve and then worsen again. You should see a provider if these symptoms have gone on for more than 10 days, you have a fever of 102 or higher, you have sudden or severe pain in your face or head, you have swelling around one or both of your eyes, you have a stiff neck, you have trouble seeing or thinking, or you have a prolonged sore throat for more than three days.

 Things you can do to to help feel better on your own include taking:

  • ibuprofen or naproxen
  • acetaminophen
  • pseudoephedrine, if your blood pressure is normal <140/90
  • antihistamines including cetirizine, loratadine, or fexofenadine
  • guaifenesin to help thin the mucus, must drink a lot of fluids with this
  • dextromethorphan for cough

Be sure to follow the bottle directions for each of these. It is important when you are ill to increase your fluid intake. Drink 64 ounces of fluids with at least half of this as water.

Antibiotic Resistance

Beware AntibioticsBecause of the problems with antibiotic resistance, it is very important to only use antibiotics when necessary. Taking antibiotics will not prevent a bacterial infection. Often people think that antibiotics are the only way to get rid of the symptoms because they get an antibiotic and they get better.

Keep in mind that most antibiotics last seven to ten days at which time the symptoms would have gone away on their own. It is usually time, not antibiotics that make you feel better. It is always okay to ask your provider questions when you have them. There are no stupid questions.

Wash your hands frequently, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and stay well this fall and winter!

To schedule an appointment with one of our providers, call 913-648-2266.