Viral vs Bacterial Sinus Infections


Sinusitis is the inflammation of the sinus that is caused by either a viral or bacterial infection. Sinusitis typically occurs when excess mucus develops or there is a blockage to the sinuses. The causes of excess mucus or blockage to the sinuses can be from an active cold, allergies, a deviated septum, or cilia not working properly, which are the small hairs in your sinuses that help move mucus out. There are two forms of sinusitis, which are acute and chronic. Acute sinusitis is a sinus infection that last anywhere from ten days to eight weeks depending on the severity. Chronic sinusitis lasts longer that acute sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis is an ongoing infection that may show signs of improvement by reoccur within a short or long time frame. Both acute and chronic sinusitis can be in the form of a viral or bacterial infection.

Viral sinus infections are the most common type of sinusitis. Viruses that cause the common cold are usually the reason for the sinus infection. The symptoms of a viral sinus infection typically last between seven to ten days. The first few days your symptoms will worsen and after about the fifth day you will start to see improvement. These types of sinus infections generally go away on their own without the need for antibiotics. The symptoms you may experience while having a viral sinus infection are headaches, congestion, low fever, nasal discharge, and trouble sleeping. Another way a viral sinus infection can form is from influenza, or more commonly known as the flu. The flu can also lead to higher fevers and body aches. Unlike common viral sinus infections, the flu’s symptoms are typically diagnosed within two days. The flu will require antibiotics to fight off the virus. When you experience any type of sinus infection it will more than likely be a viral sinus infection.

Bacterial sinus infections are less common but do occur as a result of a severe sinus infection. It may be difficult to tell the difference between bacterial and viral sinus infections because they share common symptoms. In some cases a viral sinus infection can develop into a bacterial sinus infections. This occurs when bacteria forms in fluid-filled sinus pockets. Bacterial sinus infections require antibiotics to fight off the bacteria. Signs are noticeable or continue after seven to ten days. Some common symptoms of bacterial sinusitis are cold symptoms that have worsened or shown no improvement in the first ten days, extreme fevers, facial pain or nasal discharge lasting four days or greater. Bacterial sinus infections can also form when your symptoms have healed and return shortly after. If your nasal discharge or mucus is thick, dark, and/or greenish-yellowish, you most likely have a bacterial sinus infection. There are tests you doctor can perform to determine whether or not you have a bacterial or viral sinus infection. If your symptoms show no sign of improvement after seven to ten days it is safe to say you have developed a bacterial sinus infection.

There are treatments available to help cure and heal your symptoms of sinus infections. As discussed earlier viral sinus infections typically do not require antibiotics. The best treatment for a viral sinus infection is plenty of rest and drinking fluids. You can take decongestants to help clear your sinuses. Viral sinus infections heal on their own with time while the virus runs its course through your body. On the other hand, bacterial sinus infections can require antibiotics to fight of the bacteria that have formed. Both types of sinus infections require rest and consumption of fluids. If you feel you may have a bacterial sinus infection it is best to visit your doctor to be properly diagnosed and be provided the best treatment, which may or may not include antibiotics. In some cases, people will experience chronic sinusitis and may require an evaluation from a specialist. If you are experiencing reoccurring sinus infections, it may be in your best interest to see a specialist and discuss alternative treatments to help cure you permanently.
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Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgeon