Content Hub
Urgent Care
Sinus Infections: When to See a Doctor

March 18, 2024

Sinus Infections: When to See a Doctor

Winter season is approaching as so does common respiratory illnesses, like sinus infections. Sinusitis annually affects about 35 million American citizens. This medical condition is primarily symptomatic of nose congestion, which creates constant pain and discomfort while attempting to breathe. Depending on the type of infection, sinusitis can either clear up on its own or require medical attention.

Sinus Infections 

Sinusitis, also known as a sinus infection, is the sinuses inflammation which is provoked by allergies, bacterial or viral infection. 


The following symptoms are characteristic of a sinus infection. These symptoms tend to be recurrent or last more than a few days.

  • Congestion or runny nose which causes trouble breathing.
  • Bad breath
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • Yellow or green mucus
  • Nausea
  • Toothache or jaw pain
  • Swollen or tenderness feeling in the face
  • Ear pain

Severe sinus infection symptoms that require immediate medical attention are:

  • Swollen or irritation around the eye area
  • Fever of 102 F or higher
  • Strong headaches
  • Stiff neck
  • Sight problems

When to See a Doctor? 

In contrast to viral infections, symptoms caused by bacteria usually last for long time-lapses (over 7 to 10 days). If this is the case, you should get a medical appointment for your doctor to prescribe you with sinus infection antibiotics. Only through medical assistance, patients can confirm whether if it is a viral or bacterial infection.

Severe sinusitis cases left untreated can become life-threatening conditions, for which they should be treated immediately by healthcare professionals.

Sinusitis Test

To determine the cause of infection, your primary care doctor will need to run a sinus test. This procedure involves one, if not all, of the following practices:

  • Otoscope Examination. Doctors perform an ear and nose examination in patients showing sinusitis symptoms. A medical device called “otoscope” is used during the examination.
  • Nasal Endoscopy. A medical device will be inserted in your nose to help doctors look at your sinuses. Sedatives are usually applied to the nose while completing the medical evaluation.
  • CT Scan. This test consists of an X-ray examination. It is usually designated to diagnose serious cases of sinus inflammation.
  • Allergy Test. In some cases, the cause of inflammation or congestion is an allergic reaction. To discard a viral or bacterial infection, doctors should run an allergy test.

How to Soothe Sinus Inflammation Symptoms 

Regardless of it being a viral or bacterial infection, both cause great discomfort for those suffering from sinusitis. To soothe the unpleasant symptoms, here are some measurements to implement in your treatment:

  • Decongestant. Over-the-counter decongestants provide relief by helping to clear the sinus. Follow the indications, and avoid using it for extended time lapses. Reach out to your doctor to receive further application advice.
  • Humidifier. These devices help to improve indoor air quality. They are effective for individuals with inflammation caused by pollution or environmental allergens, like pollen. Vapor, emerging from heating water on the stove, can be used as a humidifier alternative.
  • Warm Compresses. A warm damp cloth will help dissolve the mucus and soothe facial pain.
  • Saline Nasal Washes. Serves as a helpful homemade remedy to clear the sinuses and restore moisture.
  • Avoid Smoking. Dryness and irritability, caused in the sinus when smoke is inhaled, exacerbate the infection symptoms.

For illnesses like sinusitis, obtaining a clear and early diagnosis can help you avoid a lot of pain and discomfort. Healthcare professionals should help you define the root of your sinus infection and proceed to give proper treatment. 

Here at BASS Primary Care, we count with specialists experienced in respiratory illnesses and more. For further information, visit our facilities or book an appointment through our website.

At BASS Primary Care Walk-in Clinic, it's Your Health, Your Schedule.