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Breathe easy: Treating and preventing sinus infections

A sinus infection is nothing to sniff at. While the sneezing and congestion can be annoying, the sinus pressure, sore throat and headaches can leave you feeling miserable.

Fortunately, there are medical treatments and home remedies to help ease the pain and prevent sinus infections from happening. That means less time feeling sick, and more time doing the things you love.

What causes sinus infections?

Sinus infections affect nearly 30 million people each year but can usually be treated at homeSinuses are hollow cavities around the eyes and nose. When you have a sinus infection, or sinusitis, the tissue lining those cavities becomes inflamed. That can cause swelling and a build-up of mucus, which is a haven for viruses, bacteria and fungi.  

Sinus infections are among the most commonly diagnosed conditions in the U.S. and affect nearly 30 million people each year. The good news is they can usually be treated at home.

How to get rid of a sinus infection

Here are some options to relieve symptoms and help you breathe easier:

  1. Over-the-counter medications. Turn to your medicine cabinet to relieve headache, fever and localized pain. Aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help with discomfort.
  2. Nasal sprays. Nasal spray can reduce sinus swelling and congestion. Just be sure to opt for one that won’t cause additional side effects, and follow instructions carefully. Using a decongestant nasal spray for longer than the recommended time can actually worsen congestion. A corticosteroid spray, such as Nasacort, may also help reduce inflammation and swelling.
  3. Humidifiers and steam. Adding moisture to the air is generally good for sinus health. Humidifiers can help soften dried mucus and reduce congestion. There are several effective options to choose from, ranging in cost from $20 to $100, depending on the size and power level you want. Steam from a hot shower may also help relieve your symptoms. 
  4. Nasal irrigation. A neti pot is a popular home treatment used to irrigate the nasal passages using a spouted pot and saline solution. Be sure to follow safety guidelines and use the device as directed.
  5. Rest and fluids. Rest is an excellent remedy to help recover and fight infection. Proper hydration will help loosen mucus build-up and clear congestion. Tea, broth or plain water are your best options.

How can I prevent sinusitis?

Don’t let a sinus infection sideline you this spring and summer. Here are some tips to prevent sinusitis:

  • Wash your hands. Over the last year, proper handwashing has been one of the most effective ways to keep healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19. It also works for sinus infections.  

    bottle of hand sanitizer - If soap and water aren't available, use a sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid irritants such as pollution or smoke. If you work or live with smokers, ask them to smoke outside to avoid nose irritation.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. A strong immune system is key to keeping common colds, sinus infections and other illnesses at bay. Make healthy living a priority—get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and make smart food choices.
  • Manage allergies. Along with colds, seasonal allergies are one of the most common causes of sinus infections. By managing your allergy symptoms, you’ll keep your immune system humming and prevent sinus infections from taking root.

Indigo can ease the pain

If you suspect you have a sinus infection, don’t let prolonged pain and pesky symptoms get you down. The friendly providers at  Indigo Urgent Care will assess your symptoms and recommend treatments and medications that will have you feeling better in no time.

We’re open every day of the week, 8 am to 8 pm, including holidays. With convenient online scheduling, you can reserve an appointment time at a clinic close to you and move to the front of the line. And, to make care even easier, we also offer  E-visits with an Indigo medical provider 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

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