A sinus infection usually occurs after you’ve had a bad cold or other upper respiratory infection. Your sinuses are hollow air spaces in your skull and face that are usually empty, but they fill with mucus when you get a cold. A sinus infection and a cold are not the same. While some colds can lead to sinus infections, not all colds will.
When to go to urgent care for a sinus infection
A sinus infection isn’t a lingering cold. Instead, it’s lingering sinus pressure or pain that occurs after your other upper respiratory symptoms have gone away. Symptoms of sinus infection include:
- A recent cold or upper respiratory infection
- Sinus pain or pressure
- Severe congestion
- Green or yellow nasal discharge
- Sore throat
Visit an urgent care doctor for sinus infection if you have any of these symptoms, or if your cold symptoms have persisted for ten days or more.
What your urgent care doctor can do for a sinus infection
When you visit your urgent care doctor with sinus infection symptoms, your doctor will conduct a physical exam. They’ll especially want to look at your ears, nose, and throat, and they’ll be looking for signs of inflammation and infection.
Your urgent care doctor may do blood work to determine whether your sinus infection is caused by bacteria or a virus. If your sinus infection is bacterial, your urgent care doctor will prescribe antibiotics. If your sinus infection is viral, your doctor will recommend some supportive treatments for you to try at home. Viral sinus infections won’t respond to antibiotic treatment.
If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend a steroid injection to help you feel better.
What you can do for a sinus infection
If you have a sinus infection, there are plenty of things you can do to help relieve your symptoms.
- Use a saline nasal spray or a Neti Pot to rinse your sinuses
- Use a humidifier to moisturize your sinuses
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen
- Try over-the-counter decongestants
- Drink plenty of fluids; increase your water intake to 10-12 glasses of water a day.