Is the Pain in my Face from my Sinuses?

Do you have fullness and discomfort in your face? Do your upper teeth hurt? Do you have a headache? Are you running a fever? If you answered yes to the majority of these questions, then you may be experiencing a sinus condition such as a sinus infection. A sinus infection is an inflammation of the lining of the sinuses and lining of the nose. There are many causes of a sinus infection. The most common include seasonal allergies and the common cold (virus). Other causes of sinus infections include pollution such as smoke or smog, a deviated septum in your nose, swimming, an untreated dental abscess, pregnancy, a foreign body introduced into the sinus cavity, medication side effects, and trauma to the face, nose, and sinuses. Sinus infections can be contagious as they are spread via hand to hand contact. When blowing your nose or coughing, tiny air droplets can become airborne; you then inhale these droplets causing you to become sick. Sinus infections are more often viral than bacterial in nature.

Common Symptoms of Sinus Conditions

The most common complaint of sinus conditions, including sinus infections, include pain and pressure in the face below the eyes (maxillary sinuses) and in between the eyes (ethmoid sinuses). Other symptoms of sinus infections include:

General allergy symptoms:

  • Facial fullness and congestion
  • Thick secretions
  • Post nasal drip
  • Discolored nasal and postnasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Dental pain
  • Sore throat
  • Ear pain, pressure, and fullness
  • Lack of response to a decongestant

Who is at Risk for Sinus Conditions including Sinus Infections?

Both adults and children are at risk for sinus infections. It was once thought that sinus infections were an adult illness. Today, a sinus infection is considered a common pediatric problem. Children are more at risk than once thought due to their increased exposure to bacteria and allergens, their immature immune systems, frequency of viral infections, and small facial and sinus structures.

People who have a history of seasonal allergies are at greater risk to develop a sinus infection or other sinus conditions. You are also at an increased risk if you persistently have a cold or live in an area with pollution such as smog or smoke (from fire or industrial plants). Cigarette smoking puts you at greater risk for sinus conditions as well.

What will my Doctor Ask me?

Your doctor will ask you many questions regarding your symptoms as well as your medical history and your medications. Some of the more common questions will consist of when you first noticed the sinus pain and pressure, did it come on suddenly or slowly, how long have you had the symptoms if you feel the symptoms are getting better or worse, and what you have tried at home to make the symptoms better. Other common questions your doctor may ask you include:

  • Have you been running a fever and if so, how high was it?
  • Do you have a cough? If so, is it dry or productive and is it worse during the day or night?
  • Do you get frequent sinus infections? When was your last sinus infection?
  • Do you or anyone in your family suffer from seasonal allergies or asthma?
  • Do you or anyone in your family smoke cigarettes?
  • What would you rate your pain on a scale of one to ten with ten being the worst pain ever?
  • What is the consistency of your nasal discharge (runny, mucousy, thick)?

How do I Treat my Sinus Conditions/Infection?

The majority of the time, a sinus infection is caused by a virus. As with any viral illness, it will resolve on its own in five to seven days. It is only after at least ten days have passed that your doctor will consider your symptoms to be that of a bacterial sinus infection. Most often if you have a bacterial sinus infection, you will have more severe symptoms and be running a fever of 102 degrees or higher.

Symptomatic Treatment

There are a variety of home remedies and ways to treat your symptoms without prescription medications. Some of these include:

  • Increasing your water intake
  • Use a humidifier to humidify the air or take a long, hot, steamy shower
  • Apply warm compresses to your face four times a day
  • Avoid dry heat and allergens
  • Sleep with the head of your bed elevated
  • Stop smoking

Medication Treatment

If after ten days, you are still symptomatic, and your doctor feels you have developed a bacterial sinus infection, he/she will prescribe you an antibiotic to take. Your doctor will put you on an antibiotic such as Amoxicillin or Augmentin depending on the severity of your illness. If you are allergic to penicillin and cannot take that drug, then they will prescribe an alternate antibiotic such as Doxycycline. Most antibiotics prescribed will be for seven to ten days.

What do I Need to Know about Sinus Conditions? – Patient Education

  • If you are prescribed an antibiotic, make sure you take all of the antibiotic even if you are feeling better. By not completing the medication, you are not killing all the bacteria, and it will come back worse than before. You are also causing the bacteria to become resistant to the medication because they can mutate and then the antibiotic will no longer kill them.
  • If you have persistent, recurrent sinus infections, be sure to take a decongestant such as Sudafed at the first sign of symptoms to allow for sinus drainage and prevent the development of the disease.
  • Avoid the use of antihistamines unless you are suffering from seasonal allergies as antihistamines dry you up and slow the drainage of the sinuses.
  • Avoid swimming until you are no longer sick
  • Avoid travel until you are no longer having symptoms
  • Look at the color and consistency of the mucus when you blow your nose; your doctor will ask about it!

Emergency Warning Signs/When to Follow Up

  • You should follow-up with your doctor in forty-eight to seventy-two hours if you are not any better or are worsening
  • If you have had four or more episodes of sinus infections in the last year, you need to follow-up with a specialist in ears, nose, and throat (ENT).
  • If you develop symptoms of fever greater than 103 degrees, drooling saliva from your mouth, difficulty breathing, change in vision, or a stiff neck, go to the emergency room immediately.

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Carefree M.D. is a safe, secure, and reliable way to receive a medical consultation or prescription for your sinus conditions online. We connect you via webcam* or phone with a local board-certified doctor.

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