What's the Difference Between a Sinus Infection and Chronic Sinus Infections?

iStock-832125434_small.jpgSinus infections can come and go for anyone, regardless of age, activity, or lifestyle. They can be triggered by things like stress, allergies, changes in humidity, or flying. These are just a few common examples of triggers.

Generally, a sinus infection can be treated with over-the-counter medication, or your doctor can prescribe medications such as antibiotics if needed. Chronic sinus infections, or chronic sinusitis, is a bit different and can often require minimally-invasive surgical treatment.

So what is the difference between a sinus infection and chronic sinusitis? The key difference is the length of time you experience symptoms. While a sinus infection typically clears up in two weeks, sinusitis infections can take as long as eight weeks to run their course.

What are the typical symptoms of sinus infections? Typical symptoms of a sinus infection include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Sinus pain
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Congestion
  • Nasal discharge
  • Nausea

Now if you experience fever along with these symptoms, and it all clears up after two weeks, it’s probably a cold or the flu. If you do have, it’s a good idea to see your doctor anyway - they can test for flu and prescribe appropriate medications if the test comes back positive.

If your symptoms don’t clear up after two weeks, and if these longer infections repeat themselves frequently, then you likely have chronic sinusitis. This is something that your doctor will determine. The good news is that while you will likely need surgery, balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that provides lasting relief. If you think you might have chronic sinusitis and would like to discuss balloon sinuplasty, we are happy to schedule an appointment for you.