Sinusitis is the inflammation of the sinuses that’s caused by either a viral or bacterial infection. It typically occurs when you have too much mucus or your sinuses become blocked and mucus isn’t able to properly drain. This can cause bothersome symptoms that can sometimes linger.
In order to treat your sinusitis in the most effective manner, a doctor may try to identify which type you have. The vast majority of sinus infections are caused by viruses.
In this blog, the board-certified specialists at DFW Sinus Select will explain the best treatments for bacterial sinusitis vs. viral sinusitis.
What is viral sinusitis?
Viral sinus infections are by far the most common type of sinusitis.
Viruses that cause the common cold are usually the reason for sinus infection. Symptoms typically last between seven and ten days.
The symptoms that you may experience with viral sinusitis include:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Low-grade fever
- Difficulty sleeping
What is bacterial sinusitis?
Bacterial sinus infections are less common but do occur as a result of a severe sinus infection.
Some common symptoms of bacterial sinusitis include:
- Cold symptoms that haven’t improved or have gotten worse over the first ten days
- Extreme fevers
- Facial pain or nasal discharge that lasts four or more days
Identifying bacterial sinusitis vs. viral sinusitis
A sinus infection is more likely to be caused by bacteria if you’ve experienced any of the following:
- Symptoms that last for at least ten days without getting any better
- Symptoms that are severe, including a high fever
- Nasal discharge and facial pain that persists for at least three or four consecutive days at the beginning of illness
- Symptoms that worsen after seeming to improve, or new symptoms that develop, such as a new fever or headache, or an increase in nasal discharge
What are the best treatments for bacterial sinusitis vs. viral sinusitis?
Viral sinusitis typically does not require antibiotics. In fact, the overuse of antibiotics can end up fostering bacteria that become resistant to these drugs. This is why antibiotics aren’t usually prescribed right away for sinusitis. Instead, most doctors take a “wait and see” approach to see if there’s evidence that sinusitis is indeed caused by bacteria before prescribing antibiotics.
If your sinusitis is viral, the best treatment is usually plenty of rest and drinking fluids to help thin the mucus. You can also take decongestants to help clear your sinuses, but they’ll heal on their own with time as the virus runs its course.
In contrast, bacterial sinusitis can require antibiotics in order to fight off the bacteria that have formed. As with a viral infection, rest and plenty of fluids are also advised. They can help you feel a little better and can thin your mucus so it may drain more easily, but you’ll need antibiotics in order to fight the bacteria that cause this type of sinus infection. If your bacterial sinusitis doesn’t improve after you complete your course of antibiotics, you should be re-examined. You may need a new course of a different antibiotic, along with further examination that may include imaging.
If you feel you have a bacterial or viral sinus infection, it may be best to visit a doctor to be correctly diagnosed so you can receive the most effective treatment.
Where can I get evaluated for my bacterial or viral sinusitis?
At DFW Sinus Select, we’re here to help, and we specialize in the care, diagnosis, and treatment related to the nose and sinuses. Our practice offers numerous locations to conveniently serve patients through the area.
In order to receive the appropriate treatment, the first step is a thorough examination in order to accurately identify what’s causing your sinusitis. Based on your symptoms, we’ll determine whether your issues are caused by bacterial sinusitis vs. viral sinusitis.
Schedule your consultation today by filling out the appointment form right on this page or by contacting our office directly. We look forward to helping you breathe and live better, free from sinus problems.