Acute Bacterial Rhinosinusitis
What is acute bacterial rhinosinusitis?
Acute Bacterial Rhinosinusitis Care Guide
Acute bacterial rhinosinusitis (ABRS) is a bacterial sinus infection. It commonly begins as a virus, often as a common cold. Viruses usually last 7 to 10 days and do not need treatment. When the virus does not get better on its own, you may have ABRS. This means that bacteria have begun to grow inside your sinuses.
What are the signs and symptoms of acute bacterial rhinosinusitis?
Your signs and symptoms may be worse when you lie on your back or try to sleep. You may have any of the following:
- Stuffy nose and reduced sense of smell
- Runny nose with thick yellow or green mucus
- Pressure or pain on your face and a headache
- Pain in your teeth and bad breath
- Ear pain or pressure
How is acute bacterial rhinosinusitis diagnosed?
Your caregiver will feel your sinuses and look in your eyes, nose, mouth, and ears. He will ask you to describe your symptoms and how long you have had them. Tell him if your symptoms have gotten better or worse since they began. You may have ABRS if your symptoms have gotten worse after 5 to 7 days or lasted longer than 10 days. You may need the following tests:
- Culture: Your caregiver may take a mucus sample from your nose and test it for bacteria.
- X-ray or CT scan: Rarely, an x-ray or CT scan may be needed to check for problems or abnormal areas in your sinuses.
Which medicines are used to treat acute bacterial rhinosinusitis?
- Antibiotics: This will help you fight or prevent an infection. Take your antibiotics until they are gone, even if you feel better sooner.
- Decongestants: This helps reduce swelling and drain mucus in the nose and sinuses. Decongestants may help you breathe normally.
- Antihistamines: This helps dry mucus in the nose and relieve sneezing.
- NSAIDs: These medicines help lower a fever or decrease pain. This medicine can be bought without a doctor's order. Always read the medicine label and follow the directions. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems if they are not taken correctly.
- Acetaminophen: This helps reduce fever and pain. You can buy acetaminophen without a doctor's order.
How can I care for myself when I have acute bacterial rhinosinusitis?
- Rinse your sinuses: Use a sinus rinse device to rinse your nasal passages with saline (salt water) solution. This will help thin the mucus in your nose and rinse away pollen and dirt. It will also help reduce swelling so you can breathe normally. Ask your caregiver how often to do this.
- Breathe steam: Heat a bowl of water until you see steam. Make a tent over your head with a large towel. Hold your face over the steam and breathe deeply for about 20 minutes. Be careful not to get too close to the steam or burn yourself. Do this 3 times a day. Also breathe deeply when you take a hot shower.
- Sleep with your head elevated: Place an extra pillow under your head before you go to sleep to help your sinuses drain.
- Drink extra liquids: Liquids will thin the mucus in your nose and help it drain. Avoid drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine.
- Do not smoke or go to smoky places: Smoke will worsen your symptoms.
When should I contact my caregiver?
Contact your caregiver if:
- Your symptoms are worse or not better after 3 days of treatment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
When should I seek immediate care?
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- Your eye and eyelid are red, swollen, and painful.
- You cannot open your eye.
- You have double vision or you cannot see.
- Your eyeball bulges out or you cannot move your eye.
- You are more sleepy than normal or you notice changes in your ability to think, move, or talk.
- You have a stiff neck, a fever, or a bad headache.
- You have swelling of your forehead or scalp.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.