by Lisa Greene on Friday November 20, 2015
Seven Secrets to Avoiding a Sinus Infection

Achoo! It’s that time of year again, and it seems like everyone is sick.

You’re just hoping to avoid the head-pounding, face-aching, green snotty misery of a sinus infection.

It’s bad enough getting sick and sniffily for a few days from a cold. But people with sinus infections would gladly trade places -- a sinus infection lasts longer, requires more treatment, and feels worse.

Woman with allergies blows her noseFortunately, there are common-sense health measures you can take to prevent sinusitis:

Live healthy. “Start by eating a balanced, healthy diet,” said Dr. Karna Patel, a primary care doctor with the TGMG Family Care Center Carrollwood. Exercise and get enough sleep.

Wash your hands. “Hand hygiene is very important,” Patel said. “And if you know someone who’s sick, try to avoid very close contact.” Avoiding germs is the best way to avoid illness.

Get a flu shot. While flu is caused by the influenza virus, it can lead to a sinus infection. “When you’re congested with all this mucus, it’s a happy medium for infection. That’s why it starts all clear and turns dark and green,” Patel said. It’s also a good idea to make sure your other vaccinations are current, including a shot for pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Pneumococcus bacteria, the most common cause of pneumonia, also can cause sinus infections.

Elderly woman gets a shotTreat your allergies. Allergies can inflame your sinuses and make them more susceptible to infection.

Don’t smoke. “Here’s another reason to quit smoking,” Patel said. The irritation from smoke boosts your risk of sinus infection.

Humidify. Dry air dries out your sinuses and makes them more susceptible to infection.

Treat cold symptoms early. If you do get a cold, treat your symptoms promptly to try to head off an infection. Take over-the counter decongestants, drink fluids and get some rest. Nasal irrigation can also flush out the sinuses and prevent infection, Patel said. If  you feel as if you’re getting worse, have been sick more than 10 days, or have a temperature higher than 100.4 F, visit the doctor as soon as possible.