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Sinus Drainage

Overview of Sinus Drainage

Sinus drainage is also frequently known as acute sinusitis. This occurs when the cavities that is around the nasal passages become swollen and inflamed. This area is also called the sinuses. When this occurs, then there is a problem with drainage and mucus will begin to build up in this area. Sinus drainage is usually caused by a cold or an allergy. The sickness usually goes away within 10 days.

Symptoms of Sinus Drainage

There are a variety of other symptoms that come along with sinus drainage. Some of these symptoms include: fever, headache, pressure in the ear, reduced sense of taste and smell, coughing, bad breath, and fatigue.

Symptoms that are closely related to sinus drainage are most commonly thick drainage from the nose or down the throat. This drainage is typically yellow or green. You may also feel congested and have difficulty breathing through your nose. It also seems that there is a lot of pressure and pain in the face. The most common spots for this are in the eyes, cheeks, forehead, or nose. These symptoms will typically be worse if you bend down.

When to See a Doctor with Sinus Drainage

Most of the time, if sinus drainage is directly related to a cold, then you will not really need to see your physician. If you feel like you struggle with sinus drainage regularly, do not have any improvement in your symptoms, or running a serious fever.

Causes of Sinus Drainage

Sinus drainage can be classified into two categories. Sinus drainage can be a result of a cold or from allergies. In a cold, a bacterial infection is the case. If the reason is allergies, then the sinuses will swell because they are trying to get rid of the allergen that is present. An allergen can be anything that you have an allergy to, such as pets, foods, pollen, mold, etc. If a cold or allergies cause the sinuses to be inflamed for a long period of time, then there may be a risk of infection.

What does Sinus Drainage Feel Like?

Allergies and sinusitis can often feel very similar – stuffy nose, runny nose, wheezing, watery eyes, etc. If your sinus drainage is the cause of the cold, then you will not feel relief from this for days. If allergies are to blame for the sinus drainage, then you will experience relief when you are no longer around the trigger.

Risk Factors for Sinus Drainage

There are a variety of risk factors for sinus drainage. People that are more likely to experience sinus drainage are people with a medical condition, such as cystic fibrosis or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) / acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a deviated septum, or an allergic condition. Sinus drainage is one of the main symptoms that is related to allergies.

Complications of Sinus Drainage

Sinus drainage is typically not anything serious, unless it lasts for a long time. When sinus drainage is present for more than a week, there is a high risk for infection. Chronic sinusitis is the formal name for sinus drainage that lasts for longer than twelve weeks. Meningitis is an infection that occurs because of the inflammation and fluid around the spinal cord and brain. Since you are not able to properly breathe, then you may notice that you are not able to breathe or taste things very well. In extreme cases, there many infections that spreads to the bones or skin. If infection occurs around the eye, then blindness can occur. Blindness in these cases may be temporary or they may be permanent.

How to Prevent Sinus Drainage

Most people believe that to get rid of or prevent sinus drainage, you must breathe in only dry air. The opposite is true. If you are at risk or currently have sinus drainage, then you will want to be breathing in humid air. This can be done through having a humidifier. If you do not have a humidifier, then you can take a steamy shower or go into the bathroom with the shower running and breathe in the humid air.

Since sinus drainage is a direct result from allergies and upper respiratory infections, then it is important to stay healthy. If you have been diagnosed with certain allergies, then you will want to follow your physician’s directions on how to minimize symptoms. If you know what triggers your allergies, then avoid them completely. If you are unsure of what your allergies are to, then schedule an appointment with one of our allergists to discover what they are. This is the key step in prevention. If your sinus drainage is typically a result of a respiratory infection, then you will want to minimize your time around people that are sick and wash your hands frequently.

Tobacco smoke is one of the main causes to sinus drainage. If you are currently a smoker, then you will need to quit smoking immediately. If you are constantly around tobacco smoke or air pollution, then limit your time outdoors or around these irritants. These pollutions will irritate and inflame the nasal passages.

Diagnosis of Sinus Drainage

Your physician will begin by asking what your symptoms are and what seems to trigger them. The physician will also feel around for any tenderness and look inside of your nose. If symptoms tend to be brought on by allergies, then your physician will recommend allergy testing. Allergy testing will allow you to know what to avoid. Imaging tests, nasal endoscopy, or sinus cultures will all help to see any other underlying conditions that may be the cause of sinus drainage.

Treatment for Sinus Drainage

If your sinus drainage is the result of allergies and your physician is able to pinpoint which allergen causes it, then your physician may recommend immunotherapy for treatment. This will increase your exposure to the allergen, with the goal of getting your body used to the allergen and overtime, will decrease the reaction. There are also many medications that your physician may recommend, such as: pain killers, decongestants, saline spray, antibiotics, or corticosteroids.