There are two main types of sinus infections: Acute and Chronic. Acute sinusitis is typically a bacterial infection that occurs a few days after a cold and lasts less than four weeks. Chronic sinusitis can involve other sources of inflammation and involve a combination of swelling and infection. Symptoms last three months or longer. Recurrent sinusitis occurs when three or more episodes happen in a year.
Allergies or “hay fever” put you at risk for developing sinusitis because allergies can cause swelling of the sinuses and nasal mucous linings. This swelling prevents the sinus cavities from draining. If you test positive for allergies, avoidance measures, medications, and/or immunotherapy may reduce your risk of developing an infection.
Less commonly, immune problems can make one more susceptible to sinus infections and interfere with the ability to fight off common infections before they evolve into more chronic problems. It is not uncommon to screen the immune system in someone with chronic or recurrent sinusitis.
By learning more about sinusitis, you will have a better understanding of your symptoms and what may be increasing your risk for more frequent and severe sinus infections.
The first step would be a course of antibiotics and nasal sprays depending on the severity of symptoms. If your symptoms respond quickly, there may be no further treatment. If symptoms do not resolve or become more severe or frequent over time, a Board Certified Allergist may discuss skin testing for allergies, nasal sprays, oral decongestants, allergy shots, imaging of your sinuses to evaluate for structural problems, and blood work to make sure your immune system is able to fight off infections. Dr. Simpson will customize a treatment plan based on your individual history and test results.
When symptoms last longer than 3 months, a Board Certified Allergist may discuss nasal sprays, allergy testing, immunotherapy, blood work to screen your immune system, and imaging of your sinuses. Dr. Simpson will customize a treatment plan based on your individual history and test results.
Allergen Immunotherapy (Allergy Shots): Allergy shots can help prevent the frequency and severity of your sinus inflammation. They are very effective in improving symptoms while reducing the need for medications and the side effects from medications. By giving a very small amount of the allergen in regular intervals, the body develops regulatory cells that balance the immune system. Over time, the patient can tolerate increased amounts of allergen. Allergy shots are effective in 85-90% of people. It is important to customize a program that accommodates one’s work and home obligations. Dr. Simpson, a Board Certified Allergist, will customize an appropriate mix of allergens and doses required to elicit a change in your immune system.