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What is a Nasal Infection?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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A nasal infection is an infection in the nose and sinus passages. Sometimes referred to as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, nasal infections can be acute or chronic, and they have a variety of causes. Classic symptoms of a nasal infection include a thick, smelly discharge from the nose, a feeling of tightness around the face, heat around the nose, and a constant sense of feeling stuffed up and sniffly.

The nose is one of the body's first lines of defense against infection. It is very adroit when it comes to trapping bacteria, allergens, and other invaders. Sometimes, however, infectious or irritating material manages to get past the nose, and it can cause infection. Nasal infections happen when bacteria start to colonize the nose and sinuses; this warm, moist environment is a haven for bacteria once they gain a foothold.

Nasal infections can also happen when people with allergies develop an inflammation and the inflammation goes untreated. In this case, people may feel snuffly or unwell for several days before unpleasant discharges start to emerge from the nose. Nasal infections also sometimes accompany viral infections of the respiratory tract, with the viruses settling in the nose and sinuses and causing infection.

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Some nasal infections can be treated at home. Resting, drinking lots of fluids to promote drainage, inhaling steam or eating hot soup, and taking over the counter expectorant medications can sometimes resolve the infection. In other cases, prescription medications may be needed to knock out the agent causing infection. If a nasal infection persists or becomes recurrent, medical treatment should be pursued to resolve the problem.

For a chronic nasal infection, surgery may be recommended. The shapes of the sinuses are very different from person to person, and sometimes small irregularities can predispose someone to infection. A surgeon can address the problem, reducing the risk of future infections. Surgery can also be used to clear infected and dead material if it has started clogging the nose and sinuses.

If a patient does opt for surgery for a chronic nasal infection, it is worth talking to the surgeon about the goal of the surgery, the length of recovery, and the risks. Surgery on the face can carry some special risks which patients should carefully weigh before making a commitment. A reputable surgeon can provide information about success rates, risks of the procedure, and experience in the field to make a patient feel more at ease with a proposed procedure.

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Discuss this Article

pastanaga
Post 2

You have to be careful if you get chronic infections not to get addicted to those nasal sprays that clear your nose. I know a lot of people who, when they feel the nasal infection symptoms coming on, reach automatically for the nasal spray, without reading or following the instructions. Especially the instructions that explain you can only use it regularly for a few days before giving it a break.

If you use it more often, eventually you can't stop getting a runny nose and your nose membranes will swell up, which of course, does not help the infection. Some people even have to get surgery. I'm not saying don't use the sprays, just be careful, and follow the instructions. But, in my opinion, it's much better to treat the cause, rather than just mask the symptoms with a spray.

irontoenail
Post 1

In my experience the best treatment for a blocked nose is to snort salt water. I know that sounds drastic, and it can hurt a little bit but I've seen it work a few times, and I don't think it will do you any harm, especially if you boil the water first. Just add enough salt so that a cup of luke warm water tastes like sea water, and make yourself sniff it back.

Try not to swallow it or get it into your lungs, clear your throat a bit and try to spit out the bad stuff. Often there will be much more bad stuff in there than you would expect.

It's often hard to make yourself breath in

the water through your nose, but it can make you feel much better. If it won't go in properly you might try leaning your head back and pouring it in.

Inhaling steam can also help, but if your nose is really really blocked, it can be hard to get it to where it's needed. Of course, you should make sure your doctor agrees before you try this.

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