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What happens if a sinus infection goes untreated?

I woke up this morning with all the symptoms of a sinus infection.  I am getting on a plane in 12 hours and will be gone for 10 days.

I just spent the last half hour calling every doctor and clinic that I can and everyone said, "we are overbooked today, go to the ER."

I don't really want to spend the day in the ER just to get a bottle of Nasanex.   Not to mention, I haven't spent a dime from my deductible this year, so this would all be out of pocket. 

I took some OTC sinus meds and am feeling a little better.   So, can I just take an array of stuff from CVS and deal with it later or will my head melt off or something?

Re: What happens if a sinus infection goes untreated?

  • The flight will be painful. I flew with a bad sinus infection last year, and I had an excruciating headache. But I lived to tell the story and wouldn't cancel a flight on account of a sinus infection (though my ENT doctor recommended that I do that!)

    I would take ibuprofen, pseudoephedrine, and oxymetazoline nasal spray (e.g., Afrin) a few minutes before takeoff. This should ease congestion and pain on the flight.

    Many sinus infections are viral with no effective cures, so they go untreated (other than symptoms) anyway. Your head will not melt off Stick out tongue

  • You should be fine. The current recommendation is not to treat symptoms that have lasted less than 10 days anyway. Get some saline rinse.

     

    image
  • Honestly, I've done better when I haven't used antibiotics.  There's no way to tell if they are viral or bacterial until they've been around over 14 days.  Lately, the few times I've treated them with antibiotics after 14 days, I ended up getting another sinus infection shortly thereafter.  When I don't take antibiotics and let my body fight it on it's own, my recovery time is the same and I don't end up with chronic sinus infections. 

    Try using a nasal rinse, like NeilMed or a neti pot, 2x a day.  Take sudafed and advil during the day and nyquil or benadryl at night. 

    DS1 age 7, DD age 5 and DS2 born 4/3/12
  • if it is not an infection that requires antibiotics (Nasonex is not an antibiotic) then it is a sinus cold... and you can easily treat it with decongestants to relieve the pressure (you must do this before boarding an airplane) I would ask the pharmacist for the good decongestant from behind the counter.. pseudo-ephedrine.  do not take phenylephrine.. it is not good.

    also, over the counter nasal sprays are not going to cut it, you need tablets. 

    (as long as you dont have high blood pressure or diabetes

    ETA - you can still use the OTC nasal sprays, but you need tablets also.

    and neti-pot is non-medicated, so you can use that a lot

    image
  • The last time I went to the doctor for a sinus infection he told me to use the neti pot and to take sudafed.

    It really did help... the neti pot helped to clear out my nose and keep it moist.

  • i've never gone to the dr for a sinus infection and i'm alive to tell about it ;-)
  • People survived back in the day without antibiotics.  I would consider going to Walgreens "Minute Clinic" to see a doctor, though.  So you can recover faster.
  • image GypsyLou:
    People survived back in the day without antibiotics.  I would consider going to Walgreens "Minute Clinic" to see a doctor, though.  So you can recover faster.

     

    Minute clinics don't have doctors Devil Stick out tongue

    image
  • image rkto:

    also, over the counter nasal sprays are not going to cut it, you need tablets. 

    When I flew with a sinus infection, my physician recommended that I take Afrin along with pseudoephedrine. I can't say whether it helped, because I don't have a control group. I think that my biggest mistake was not taking an analgesic before taking off, so that when I had a terrible headache, I had to wait 20+ minutes for it to start working.

  • Oh great, thanks so much!  I totally feared I would get scolded for not taking care of myself.

    Netipots freak me out.  I think I would feel like I was being waterboarded.  I have a deep seated phobia of sniffling.  I actually gag when I hear someone else do it, and I can't physically do it myself.  So I just don't know how I would cope with water being squirted up my nose.  Gahhhhh....I'm cringing and gagging a bit just thinking about it.

  • image LillyMD:

    image GypsyLou:
    People survived back in the day without antibiotics.  I would consider going to Walgreens "Minute Clinic" to see a doctor, though.  So you can recover faster.

     

    Minute clinics don't have doctors Devil Stick out tongue

    LOL, then a able-to prescribe a $5 Rx physicians assistant!

    Plus if she doesn't want to pay b/c of her deductable - she could probably do this out-of-pocket and it would be cheaper?

     

  • I get sinus infections about 3x a year, I've gone to the dr once in my recent memory and she said (like pp) that most are viral and cannot be treated with anything.  I usually dope up on Sudafed and plan to try out a neti-pot next time I end up with one.
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  • image EastSideFluffy:

    Oh great, thanks so much!  I totally feared I would get scolded for not taking care of myself.

    Netipots freak me out.  I think I would feel like I was being waterboarded.  I have a deep seated phobia of sniffling.  I actually gag when I hear someone else do it, and I can't physically do it myself.  So I just don't know how I would cope with water being squirted up my nose.  Gahhhhh....I'm cringing and gagging a bit just thinking about it.

    I have the same feeling about a NetiPot.  I can't do them.

    I use the SinusRinse.  It gets the same job done, but less intimidating.

  • You should be fine.  Take the behind-the-counter Sudafed.  I would think the flight would be awful but it won't kill you. :-)  Plus, my friend had one after recovering from H1N1 and the doctor waited a few days to see if it cleared itself before giving her meds.
  • I never go to the Dr for them anymore.  I can't use the netipot but I do use a sinus rinse.  The one I use is called Ayr and I get it at CVS
  • Get a NeilMed or Saltaire sinus rinse.  Triple the amount of mix you put in.

    Get a bottle of Oil of Oregano.  I swear by this stuff for sinus problems.  Two drops in a little OJ, three times a day.  It is antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral.

    Google it.  You'll see how effective it is.  This coming from someone who had to go on prednisone to shrink her sinuses.  Not any more!

  • FWIW, my exbf went untreated for a significant period of time (try months).  It entered the fluid around his brain and he almost died.

    I'd go to a walk in clinic.

    I give up trying to add my kids' photos. Just know that they are adorable.
  • Good luck.  The plane ride will suck.   I agree that psuedephedrine helps a lot.  And I usually take acetaminphine with it too (tylenol) because it causes me a bit of pain when everything is so dry.
  • Well, the worst I had (due to _undertreated_ sinus infection, not _untreated_ sinus issues) was a few years ago.

    I ended up with strep throat from the drainage, and some chest infection from it all, too, by the time I finally had decent attention from the doctor.  In the middle of it all, I lost my voice, and was unable to eat anything harder/firmer than yogurt, overcooked pasta, and soup...

     

    All told, it was over a month before I finally felt better, from my first attempt to see a doctor, and I ended up on pills so large I had a hell of a time trying to swallow them.

    image
  • ESF - the Neilmed sinus rinse isn't bad at all. I'm not coordinated enough to use a neti pot but the sinus rinse squeeze bottle is easy. It's a little weird at first, but then it feels so good that you'll get over the waterboarding fear. Good luck!
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