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7 Signs of a Sinus Infection

an ENT specialist is discussing sinus issues with his patient

A sinus infection is something you want to deal with right away to prevent it from escalating. However, it’s not easy to discern between the different symptoms and what they mean. After all, an infection manifests itself in a similar way to the flu or a cold, so you can’t always act decisively.

With that in mind, here are some signs you have a sinus infection and should see an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor.

1. Nasal discharge

When your sinuses become infected, they begin to release a discharge that flows down your nasal passages and drips off the end of your nose. It’s usually green or yellow, but the color can be cloudy or even brown, depending on the level of the infection.

However, it’s worth noting that the mucus can go down the back of your throat, too. Therefore, you might have a sinus infection if you suddenly develop a cough without any other symptoms or have to clear your throat regularly.

2. Nasal congestion

The opposite side-effect is that the infection causes the sinuses to become congested. For example, you may find it harder to breathe than normal, and your throat may feel stuffy and more restricted than usual.

Congestion occurs when the sinuses are inflamed. This is because the body tries to fight off the infection, leading to swelling. If your sinuses feel bigger and more irritable, this is a sign of a sinus infection.

3. Loss of smell and taste

A side effect of nasal congestion is that you will find it challenging to smell or taste. Again, the swelling is to blame since the scents and aromas you are used to can’t reach the top of the nose.

Sometimes, the inflammation presses down on the nervous system, impacting the signal that triggers taste and smell. Allergies and a cold can also cause these symptoms, which is why it’s vital to speak to a professional ENT doctor if you’re concerned.

4. Sore throat

Although you may expect the mucus and extra fluid to keep your throat moist, it has the opposite effect. Excess mucus constantly rubs against the area, meaning it will become irritated. As a result, it can be a massive challenge to eat, drink and swallow when you experience a sinus infection.

Your voice can become hoarse and scratchy, too, due to your inflamed throat. You may have a sinus infection if your speech is inhibited; for instance, your voice is less powerful.

5. A cough

A cough is the body’s response to the symptoms of an infection. With the sinuses, a nasal drip usually kicks off the reaction as your immune system will attempt to eliminate the tickle at the back of your throat. Typically, it can take a couple of days, or even weeks, to clear out the irritants.

6. Length of symptoms

Sinus infections classed as chronic will take more than 12 weeks or three months to negate. Therefore, it’s important to speak to an ENT doctor if you can’t relieve the symptoms after one to two weeks.

However, there is also a condition called acute sinusitis, which is a shorter version that lasts for fewer than one month. So, you shouldn’t be complacent and assume you aren’t experiencing symptoms if they disappear quickly. The virus’s effects may subside, yet viruses can lay dormant in the nasal and throat cavities, meaning you must eliminate it entirely to recover fully.

7. Fatigue

The body has to work tirelessly to ensure the experience isn’t too uncomfortable. For example, it will lean on the inflammation process to fight off the invader, not resting until it believes the virus has gone. Although it’s necessary, the process is tiring because it will impact your normal routine.

Sleeping is tough since your immune system must continue to produce white blood cells and antibodies, so you may experience fatigue regularly. The only option is to make yourself as comfortable as possible at night.

When should you see a doctor?

You should see an ENT doctor when you experience sinus blockages, discharge and a loss of smell or taste that lasts for an extended period. A cough and sore throat are warning signs, too.

Schedule an appointment with Independence Ear, Nose & Throat

At Independence Ear, Nose & Throat, we have the expertise and experience to diagnose your symptoms and prescribe the proper ear, nose, & throat treatment to make your life easier. All you have to do is call us today at 772-888-1880, and we’ll book you an appointment with one of our hearing health professionals.