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Debunking 5 Common Myths About Sinusitis

Rhinologists, over the years, have come up with various procedures to treat and manage sinusitis. Despite the developments, many patients are still unclear about sinusitis, which is partially attributable to some common myths about the disorder. Acting on the basis of misconceptions not only prolongs the agony, but may also worsen the condition. Therefore, to clear the smokescreen, this blog post discusses some of the common myths related to sinusitis.

Myth 1: “Sinusitis is a contagious disorder.”

Fact: Sinus infection is not contagious, but if you catch a cold (viral infection) from someone, it may lead to sinus infection. There, however, has been no known case, so far, of a person developing the problem after getting in contact with a sinusitis patient.

Myth 2: “All Sinus headaches are caused by sinusitis.”

Fact: Sinus headaches refer to the pain that occurs in the area of sinuses-above, below and around the eyes that are related to bacterial sinus infections. These infections can cause pain in these areas. Headaches over the sinus areas can be caused by things other than sinus infections including tension headaches and migraines, among other things.

  • Common cold at times may cause a sinus headache. It is, however, a virus infection and there is a small chance that it will lead to bacterial sinus infection.
  • Another possible cause of sinus pressure or headaches is allergies. Allergies cause swelling and may block the sinuses, resulting in sinus headaches even without an infection
  • Migraine attacks are one of the most common causes that result in sinus headaches. Studies show that at least 50 percent of people suffering from chronic sinus headaches are due to a migraine or other neurological issues.
  • There are high chances of you catching an infection when your sinuses remain inflamed or blocked for more than three months. Further, there are chances of you experiencing headaches even when you have not contracted an infection

It can be difficult to distinguish between the above symptoms to determine whether you have a sinus headache. It is advisable to consult a rhinologist if the headache does not subside after ten days.

Myth 3: “Decongestant spray can help you breathe.”

Fact: Decongestants provide short-term relief from a stuffy nose. It is, however, advisable to avoid using them for a longer period of time as it can worsen the condition, therefore, resulting in aggravated swelling. Prolonged usage of decongestants can also have an impact on the heart and increase blood pressure levels.

Myth 4: “Antibiotics are necessary for sinus infection.”

Fact: Whether a patient needs antibiotic depends on the cause of the infection. In most cases, patients do not need to use an antibiotic since most sinusitis starts off as a viral infection and will resolve on its own. Even if the doctor prescribes an antibiotic, the patients are required to start taking it only after 7-10 days of discolored nasal drainage that has not shown any improvement. Some other ways of treating sinusitis include the use of decongestants, mucous-thinning agents, nasal steroids, and antihistamines. Rhinologists may also recommend a sinus surgery or balloon dilation, depending upon the severity of the sinusitis and how long it has been present and if it has been refractory to antibiotic and oral steroid use.

Myth 5: “Green or yellow mucous indicates a bacterial sinusitis.

Fact: A green or yellow nasal drainage is often a classic sign of a sinus infection. Often, when the nasal drainage turns yellow or green it is from the death of white blood cells fighting off infection (either viral or bacterial infection). The color of the mucous does not indicate if the infection is bacterial or viral, however the longer an infection persists the more likely it is to be bacterial. It is important to see a sinus specialist to perform a nasal endoscopy to look inside your nose and see where the discolored nasal drainage is coming from and possibly culture the infected mucous. This will allow for culture directed antibiotic therapy which is much more effective than randomly choosing an antibiotic that may or may not be effective against the bacteria.

The Bottom Line

Treating sinusitis can be much easier if you get rid of preconceived notions, as acting on the basis of myths can only worsen the condition and may also result in complexities. Instead of believing in the myths and trying over-the-counter medicines, it is advisable to consult a rhinologist. If you or someone you know has been dealing with sinusitis, Houston Advanced Nose and Sinus can help explore all possible treatment and alternative medication options. Give us a call at 713-791-0700 to schedule an appointment.

We’re here to help

If you are frustrated by frequent sinus infections, persistent nasal congestion, or other sinus symptoms, Dr. Arjuna Kuperan and the team at Houston Advanced Nose & Sinus can help. Contact us today with any questions or to schedule your consultation.

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