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Cherie from Singapore asked a question

How can I prevent frequent sinus infections?

I get sinus infection very frequently, about once every 1-2 months. What can I do to prevent the frequent sinus infections, and what kind of specialist should I look for for further checks?

DOCTOR’S ANSWER (1)
Dr Gan Eng Cern
Ear, Nose & Throat
Singapore
(5 Ratings)
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Dr Gan Eng Cern
Ear, Nose & Throat
Singapore
(5 Ratings)
Answered on Wed May 23 2018 13:06:16 GMT+0000 (UTC)

Dear Cherie,

I am sorry to hear that you are experiencing sinus infection (medically known as sinusitis) every 1-2 months. It is important to determine if the "sinus infections" are indeed sinusitis. Common symptoms of a sinus infection includes:

  • Blocked nose
  • Facial congestion or pain
  • Coloured nasal discharge/mucous (yellow, brown, green or even blood stained)
  • Postnasal drip
  • Reduced sense of smell

A sinus infection usually last longer than 10 days or continues to worsen on day 5 of your illness. If your symptoms are less than these, you may be experiencing a cold/flu (described medically as a viral upper respiratory tract infection or URTI). It is important to differentiate between a cold/flu and sinus infection because one needs a course or oral antibiotics while the other don't. Sinus infections are caused by bacteria and a course of antibiotics will be required, while a cold/flu is caused by viruses and do not need to be treated with antibiotics.

There are certain risk factors that predisposes a person to getting more frequent sinus infections. These include nasal allergies (Allergic Rhinitis), deviated nasal septum, narrow sinus drainage pathways, smoking and genetic predisposition. Many of my patients with frequent sinus infections do have uncontrolled or poorly controlled nasal allergies. Keeping your nasal allergies under control may prevent frequent sinus infections. 

I also have a number of patients who think that they have a sinus infection but in actual fact, they are suffering from Rhinitis (sensitive nose), which can be allergic or non-allergic. Common symptoms of Rhinitis include:

  • Blocked nose
  • Clear runny nose
  • Itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Postnasal drip

As you can see, some of the symptoms between sinusitis, rhinitis and the common cold do overlap and it can be confusing for patients. Sometimes it is also difficult for doctors to differentiate between the 3 conditions. You should see an ENT Specialist to get an assessment as often, with a detailed clinical history and a nasoendoscopy (scope through the nose in the clinic), a correct diagnosis can be achieved.

Prevention of frequent sinus infections depends on the underlying cause and sometimes a CT scan (special series of X-rays) of the sinuses may be required to assess any anatomical abnormalities that resulted in a blocked sinus or narrow sinus drainage pathway. If these are present, endoscopic sinus surgery to widen the drainage pathway of the sinuses while preserving its physiological function may be required. 

Hope this helps and all the best!

0 124 views 0 Doctors agree Wed May 23 2018 13:06:16 GMT+0000 (UTC)
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