While mucus is the first line of defense against sinus infections, irritation can cause production to go into overdrive. Without relief, the excess mucus can cause pain, discomfort, and the very sort of infection that it typically helps prevent. In cases where symptoms last eight weeks or longer, a sinus infection goes from being an acute case to a chronic one, and your sinuses become a breeding ground for halitosis-causing bacteria and fungus.
When this happens, your sinusitis needs to be tackled on several fronts, addressing both the causes and the symptoms of the disease.
- Mucus reduction – blow your nose frequently, but gently, using non-abrasive facial tissue and washing your hands each time. Stay hydrated; drink water and warm liquids, but avoid dairy products, which cause congestion. Mucus buildup with cause painful sinus pressure and delay your recovery from infection; for the most immediate relief, use a nasal irrigation system with a warm saline solution.
- Pressure reduction – decongestants reduce swelling in your mucus membranes in your nose, allowing you to breathe easier. Use these medications sparingly, however, as they can lead to dehydration, which can worsen symptoms of halitosis. Placing a warm, moist wash cloth over your face will also help relieve sinus pressure.
- Pain reduction – over-the-counter pain medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen, can help relieve headaches and sinus pain. Do not exceed the dosage recommended on the packaging unless directed to do so by a physician.
- Antibiotics – chronic cases of sinusitis may require antibiotics to treat fully. If your doctor prescribes such medication, be sure to use the entire amount you are given as directed. An incomplete treatment could result in a stronger infection taking hold. Drink plenty of fluids to offset any dehydrating effects that your medication may have.
Keep in mind that, while all of the methods mentioned above will help in your recovery from a sinus infection, only sinus irrigation is of any preventative value. If you find yourself facing frequent bouts of sinusitis, consult your physician to ensure that the same infection is not resurfacing, and that you are taking adequate preventative measures.