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deni's avatar

What's your experience with sinus infections, and when do I see a doctor?

Asked by deni (23094points) 1 week ago

Hi Fluther. Long time no see. Wish I was here for a happier reason, but I’m at my wits end and really kind of lost as to where to turn.

I want to preface this by saying I know most folks here aren’t doctors, I simply want to hear others experiences. I am not asking for straight up medical advice. I just have been lucky most of my life to not be sick many times, and have been blindsided at age 32 by what I believe to be a sinus infection.

Anyhow, I flew home from visiting family in PA last Tuesday and everyone there had been sick including my twin two year old nephews. I knew I was doomed when last Saturday I felt a tickle in my throat (nine days ago). Landing in Tucson Tuesday night my ears never really popped on the way down. So that’s where it all began, but it was only a matter of time anyhow.

Since then things have plummeted drastically. I have been at home, doing nothing, since then, every single day I have felt dramatically different from the one before and after. Mostly it has been a retched combination of extreme sinus pressure, coupled with being almost unable to hear out of at least one ear at a time, facial pain and pressure, headaches, congestion, coughing, etc.

From googling (always dangerous) and from what I have heard from others, this seems to be a sinus infection, right? I have RUN THE GAMET on options here, I have been loading up on vitamins and steaming my face with eucalyptis water, taking baths, doing a neti pot twice a day, and have gotten to the point where I am taking dayquil as much as I am able to. It provides almost no relief. Nor does nyquil.

I have been unable to work for a week since I got back, which is frustrating, I have a friend coming into town, a backpacking trip, and the biggest work event of the year all in the next 10 days. I need this to go away. But I understand the human body does not comply with your social life all the time.

I also have no medical insurance (please don’t lecture me on this), am fairly skeptical of doctors, and would love to not take antibiotics as they always give me a yeast infection. From reading about sinus infections online, it seems like doctors won’t prescribe an antibiotic until they feel it’s a bacterial sinus infection anyhow, which you generally need to have had for 7–10 days, so not sure I qualify. I tried to go see a doctor today and everywhere is booked up, even urgent care. I then became frustrated and now I just don’t know what to do.

Does anyone have any personal experience with sinus infection timelines? I know they are common, I also know I am a big baby when I get sick because it happens so rarely. Tips, tricks, anything to relieve this pressure which has just today shifted over to the right side of my face to the point where it is almost numb.

And I did get tested for covid on Friday, it was negative and yes I am vaccinated too if that matters.

Thanks Fluther.

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32 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

Don’t delay, go see the doctor ASAP. I have a long and storied history with sinus infections, caused by dust, caused by bacteria, caused by viruses, and I have learned to never let it get to the point that you describe, or it is a long and miserable recovery.
I take a big dose of an NSAID (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium) to ease the pressure and reduce inflammation, then I go to the doctor, get a culture done (to determine cause) and gratefully suck back any and all meds they suggest and prescribe.

This is a miserable awfulness, I hope you get some relief soon and feel better!

If you’re up to it, please let us know how this turns out, I’d love to hear good news. <3

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Mucinex over the counter !

See a doctor too.

longgone's avatar

I’ve had plenty of sinus infections, but constant pressure on ears, hearing loss, and a numb face goes beyond anything I’ve experienced. I know it’s difficult, more so when you’re sick, but you definitely need (and deserve) a doctor’s help. Go soon, especially if you don’t want antibiotics.

SnipSnip's avatar

If you haven’t seen a doctor or somehow checked white count you don’t know you have an infection. Go to see your doctor.

janbb's avatar

I remember my doctor once telling me that for a severe sinus infection, you need antibiotics or it won’t go away. You can take probiotics with them to try to mitigate against a yeast infection.

Go to the doctor. It still sounds like it could be Covid. You need medical attention.

CybertonSlapback's avatar

I’ve had a sinus infection twice. For the first one, it was the pain, it was so bad I couldn’t cope and I went to a doctor and took antibiotics. It eventually cleared up over a period of about 10 days. Recently I had a sinus infection and it was a bit different than the first time and I was given a nasal spray with steroids to bring down inflammation. Can you summons up some cash and go and see a doctor? A yeast infection is easy enough to clear up afterwards if needed. It could also be Covid, by the way, a lot of people are presenting with sinus infection when infected with Covid.

flutherother's avatar

Many years ago, I stupidly went skiing with a head cold which led to a sinus infection I couldn’t shake off. It was very unpleasant and though I didn’t want to see a doctor eventually I had to and he prescribed a course of antibiotics which cleared it up like a miracle within three or four days.

JLeslie's avatar

Sounds like you have a sinus infection that needs antibiotics, or covid. Maybe do a second covid test. If you had a quick test it might have been a false negative.

A cold is a week total. Anything with heavy sinus involvement lasting more than a week is not a simple cold.

Tell the doctor you’re prone to yeast infections and he can prescribe Zithromax instead of penicillin, or prescribe you a Diflucan to prevent it.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I used to get them every single year in fall/winter when the heat came on. This is all I did and never went to doctor for this.

For me, I would steam myself constantly with direct steam. Towel over head above the unit.
Lots of Vicks in the water and under my nose.
Tons of steaming hot tea.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
deni's avatar

Thanks for your input everybody. This community is always so great to come back to.

A second course of neti-pot this afternoon helped with that right side of my head issue. I have a doctors appointment for early tomorrow morning. Will report back!

Caravanfan's avatar

Do more irrigation with hypertonic buffered saline (salt with baking soda) with your neti pot. Avoid the decongestants/antihistamines as it can dry you out and make things harder to come out.

Where you going backpacking? It’s a bit late in the season.

kruger_d's avatar

I once had a long and painful flight with a sinus infection when I ears did not pop. I went to a clinic the next day and the doctor said the swelling was still keeping the pressure from adjusting in my ears. He had me close my mouth and nose and blow as hard as I could. After several attempts my ears popped and I had some relief. The sinus infection still needed to be treated though, so please get a clinic. The cost will be less than the lost income.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

My wife’s supervisor was on a business trip in an airplane from Kansas City, Kansas to the East Coast with a sinus infection, he was wearing hearing aids by end of the year because he screwed up both of his ears !

Patty_Melt's avatar


I went to the ER once with unbearable pain. It was a sinus infection so bad, the doctor said it would have caused brain damage if I had waited a few hours more.
He advised me to use nasal saline spray whenever I am bothered by stuffiness. Since you have a neti pot, that should do for normal times, but for situations like you describe above, yes, a doctor is the right choice.
I hope you feel better quickly.

deni's avatar

@kruger_d Unreal! The timing of the flight and when this sickness started did make me wonder if that had something to do with the severity of it all…..guess we’ll see!

@Caravanfan The Catalinas near Tucson, always in season down here, most of the reason I moved here :)

Caravanfan's avatar

Taking antihistamines won’t give you brain damage if you have a sinus infection.

@deni Looked it up. 7000 mile vertical. Have fun! We’re usually not that ambitious on our backpacking trips.

kritiper's avatar

ASAP! It could be MRSA.

filmfann's avatar

When I get bad sinus infections, day 4 of taking anribiotics is a good day!

Blackwater_Park's avatar

Well, one took most of my sense of smell so I would take it seriously.

si3tech's avatar

Welcome back @deni My experience with chronic ad acute sinus infections (after many years of same) I had sinus surgery.. It was life changing for me. I had reached the point where I was never totaly free of infection. I am so much better and should have had surgery sooner.

canidmajor's avatar

@deni, I hope your trip to the medicos brought you some relief!

JLeslie's avatar

Did you see the doctor? How are you doing?

Patty_Melt's avatar

@Caravanfan I didn’t say antihistamines cause brain damage. It dries the sinus glop, causing it to accumulate and not drain. The sinuses burst and infection spreads to the brain, eventually.
Sinus congestion is the start. If damage occurs then infection sets in. The two are not the same, but sometimes both occur. That confused people sometimes.
When my situation occured, I was working in a facility where lots of paper dust floated around. It caused me to have constant congestion. I overused antihistamines, and it caused my problems.

deni's avatar

Hey everyone! Sorry for the delay – yes I went to the doctor Tuesday morning and she quickly prescribed me antibiotics which I started taking right away. So it’s been 48 hours and things have drastically improved! I definitely don’t feel 100% but the throbbing pain in and around all points on my head and face has mostly gone away, congestion has improved greatly, among other things.

The only thing I’m noticing is still lingering around is my right ear (remember it was initially my left ear that was totally clogged/felt like it needed to pop) still feels that way. Not as bad as three days ago, but I have been trying to gently plug my nostrils and blow, or chew gum or do anything that normally makes your ears pop. I assume this is probably normal and will go away soon and is just a lingering effect but it is definitely annoying!!

canidmajor's avatar

Oh, @deni, so glad you’re feeling better! Enjoy the holiday, keep taking it easy. <3

chyna's avatar

Yay @deni! Glad you got some relief.

JLeslie's avatar

Eustachian tube inflammation can linger. Hopefully, in two days you will feel completely better. Chewing gum can help. Also, when you take a shower, go to your smallest bathroom if you have more than one. Run the shower hot with the door closed so the room steams up, then turn it down to the temp and take a shower in the steamy room. The steam can help loosen the mucous that might be blocking the tubes, and you need to take a shower anyway.

Remember to finish the medication even if you feel better.

Did they give an antibiotic less likely to give you a yeast infection?

JLeslie's avatar

Stay in the bathroom the whole time so you’re breathing in the humid air as long as possible.

deni's avatar

@JLeslie Thank you for those tips – today (saturday) and my ears still feel like they have yet to pop. Becoming frustrating but glad to hear that maybe thats more or less normal and I feel so much better otherwise. I will try the shower technique. I have been surviving on tons of baths but they don’t provide that much needed steamy humidity like a shower would, plus I always leave the bathroom door and window open. No more of that til this gets better lol.

Oh and no they didn’t give me a different antibiotic but they did give me some antifungal which I was resistant to taking because it didn’t seem necessary but I just went ahead and took it anyhow because I really didn’t want a yeast infection.

JLeslie's avatar

You can take an antihistamine to try to help your ears. Double check with your doctor of course. I’m not a doctor.

The antihistamine should reduce the inflammation. You could take a decongestant too, but the antihistamine will probably be enough.

If your ear hurts then it might be infected (you don’t sound in pain) but just that full pressure thing just sounds like mucous or inflammation that should clear within days.

Did they give you Zithromax or Augmentin, or maybe something else.

deni's avatar

@jleslie amoxicillin. You’re right, my ears don’t really hurt or anything, just still feel like I’m speaking inside of an auditorium when I talk. Would like my full range of hearing back, but I’ll be patient!

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