Sinus Infection Symptoms and COPD

Man with sinusitis
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Many people with COPD complain that they get frequent sinus infections that make their lives miserable. In fact, there is growing evidence to support that there is a direct link between COPD and chronic sinus infections, also known as sinusitis. What are the symptoms of a sinus infection and what can you do about them?

Symptoms of Sinus Infection

There are four major pairs of sinuses:  the frontal sinuses in the forehead, the maxillary sinuses behind the cheekbones, the ethmoid sinuses behind the eyes and the sphenoid sinuses, also behind the eyes.

Symptoms of sinus infection depend on upon which of the sinuses are affected, but, may include:

  • pain or pressure in different areas of the face or head that may get worse when coughing, sneezing, bending over, lying down or sitting upright
  • headache of varying degrees, depending on which sinuses are infected
  • post-nasal drip
  • nasal discharge
  • visual disturbances
  • fever
  • sore throat
  • bad breath unrelated to dental problems
  • toothache or sensitivity of the teeth

When to Seek Medical Attention

Left untreated, sinus infections can cause severe complications and possibly even death. Call your health care provider if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, or any of the following:

  • swelling anywhere around the face or eyes
  • visual disturbances including dilated pupils, swelling of the eye, or double vision
  • personality changes including an altered level of consciousness
  • seizures
  • high fever

Self-Care for Sinus Infections

While your doctor is likely to prescribe medications to treat your sinus infections, including antibiotics, oral decongestants, and nasal sprays, the following self-care tips can be done in the comfort of your own home:

  • drink plenty of water (unless your doctor tells you otherwise)
  • inhale steam several times a day (leaning over a bowl of hot water with a towel over your head works great)
  • use over-the-counter expectorants like Robitussin or Mucinex (unless you are told otherwise by your doctor)
  • take an over-the-counter pain reliever recommended by your doctor
  • use a Neti-pot for nasal irrigation

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