For many Americans, winter's cold weather and forced close contact with others can lead to a painful sinus infection. While these infections can generally be cleared up with a round of oral antibiotics, in some cases you may find yourself continuing to suffer for months on end. Sometimes the infection worsens each time you don't get enough sleep for a few nights or your diet goes downhill. What causes these stubborn sinus infections, and what can you do to get relief? Read on to learn more about your treatment options.
What causes sinus infections that aren't easily treated with antibiotics?
A sinus infection is the result of bacteria that becomes trapped inside the sinus cavity -- often when you're blowing your nose while suffering from a cold or allergies. Because your sinus cavities are warm, moist, and self-enclosed, they provide the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive and quickly spread to the spaces beneath your nose and cheeks.
In most cases, a brief course of oral antibiotics can knock out the bacteria causing this infection, while nasal steroid sprays can provide relief from the inflammation caused by the bacteria. However, some bacteria have developed resistance to certain types and dosages of antibiotics; and while you may notice your sinus infection symptoms diminishing after a few days of treatment, ordinary antibiotics may not be enough to fully kill off the bacteria. Your infection may then go dormant for a period of time as your immune system fights a constant battle to keep this bacteria in check. If your immune system falters while fighting against your sinus bacteria, your infection will quickly come back in full force.
Certain antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) can be very difficult to treat once colonized in your body. Because of this, it's vital to have your sinus infection permanently eradicated as quickly as possible -- the longer you take antibiotics, the higher your odds of developing an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection.
What are your treatment options for a sinus infection that won't seem to go away?
If you've already gone through several rounds of antibiotics and are still dealing with symptoms of a sinus infection, your first course of action is to ensure that what you're dealing with is truly being caused by bacteria, rather than a virus or allergen. You'll need to visit your doctor for this diagnosis -- after taking a sample of the mucus draining from your sinus cavity and testing it, your doctor should be able to pinpoint the precise cause of the inflammation. Often, you may find that you're dealing with a type of bacteria that responds better to sulfa drugs than amoxicillin, or one that can be treated much more easily with mupirocin cream than cephalosporin. By targeting the specific bacteria with an antibiotic designed for it rather than taking a more "catch-all" antibiotic, you'll have greater odds of success with a single round of treatment.
Another treatment option that is less commonly available in the U.S. is the use of bacteriophages to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Bacteriophages, or "phages," are a special type of virus that infects only bacteria while posing no harm to healthy organs or tissues. Because bacteriophages aren't approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they can be hard (but not impossible) to access in the United States. However, they've been used to fight staph infections and other stubborn bacteria in other countries for decades with great success. By drinking a prepared solution or even swabbing the inside of your nose with bacteriophages, you may be able to kill off your sinus bacteria for good.
For more treatment options, contact a company like Dymista.