Sinus infections can range from mild to severe and can last for only a few days to months on end. The severity of your symptoms will dictate how far into the diagnostic process you need to go in order to get answers.
What Is a Sinus Infection?
A sinus infection is a swelling or inflammation of the tissues that line your sinuses, which are hollow chambers in your skull. Sinus infections are usually caused by a viral infection, such as the common cold.
Most professionals will have you take the wait-and-see approach before prescribing any antibiotics, especially if you report visiting a busy place like Boise Spectrum Center during cold and flu season. During the wait-and-see process, you will monitor your symptoms to see if they get better on their own. Most see an improvement within a week.
If your symptoms last longer than 10 days or continue to get worse, it is likely you are experiencing a bacterial sinus infection. Symptoms include a high fever, severe sinus pain and nasal discharge.
Those with sinus symptoms lasting for more than 10 days should schedule an appointment with their provider for an evaluation.
There are a number of steps in the process of determining the cause of a sinus infection.
Your doctor will first review your symptoms, paying close attention to how long you have been sick and if you have had other sinus infections in the past year. They will also ask you a series of questions to try to determine any contributing factors that may increase your risks, such as a history of asthma, allergies or any condition that weakens your immune system.
Next, your doctor will conduct a physical exam, looking inside your nose and noting where on your face you feel pain or pressure.
Your doctor may order one or more of the following tests in order to get additional information about the cause of your symptoms:
- Nasal swabs.
- Blood tests.
- Allergy tests.
An X-ray or CT scan gives your doctor a more thorough view of the area to help them determine if there is a buildup of fluid inside your sinuses or nasal polyps.
A nasal endoscopy may also be performed to get a better look in your sinuses. This procedure involves inserting a thin fiberoptic cable with a camera on the end into your nose.
To learn more about the process of diagnosing a sinus infection or to schedule an appointment with your ear, nose and throat provider, contact SW Idaho ENT today.