How to Unclog the Ears During a Sinus Infection

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Unclogging the ears during a sinus infection usually can only be done using antibiotics. Find out what you need to unclog your sinus infection with help from a practicing pediatrician in this free video on ear care.

Part of the Video Series: Ear Care & Treatments
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. David Hill and today we're going to talk about how to unclog ears during a sinus infection. I guess our first question is, what is a sinus infection and how do you know you have one? Well, the sinuses are four air-filled para spaces within the skull. These make the skull lighter and allow us our voices to resonate so that they make more and better sounds. Sometimes when you get sick these spaces will up with fluid, that fluid can become infected and be filled with pus instead of just plain fluid. So the first question is, what's going on in the sinuses? Well most inflammation in the sinuses is a result of a viral infection like a cold for example. There are thousands of different viruses that cause colds but the good news is they almost always go away on their own without any intervention so you really don't need to do anything about them. How do you know though when a bacteria has come in when you no longer have fluid in your sinuses, but pus? There are a few clues, fever with a cold should usually last only about three days. So if you have four days of fever, that's a good sign you have a sinus infection. The running nose from a cold should last somewhere between ten to fourteen days on the outside. So if you or your child has a runny or stuffy nose for more than ten to fourteen days, it's time to get evaluated for a potential bacterial rhinosinusitis we call it. If you have a fever or your child has a fever over 104 degrees, that's pretty unusual for most viral infections and it deserves a looksie by your or your child's doctor. Now if you do have a bacterial sinus infection, the best way to clear it out is to treat it with antibiotics at least in children. Interestingly in adults, antibiotics have not proven to be all that effective and we're now more interested in using medications like inhaled nasal steroids to shrink the inflammation in the nasal passages and allow the sinuses to drain. Another complete over the counter, completely medicine free approach to draining sinuses is to use a neti pot. You've probably heard of these, it just kind of looks like a teapot or a genie's lamp that introduces saltwater into the nasal cavities, that does seem to reduce the inflammation and help get some drainage to come out. So, depending on what's wrong with your sinuses, why they're full of fluid, you can drain them either by waiting for the cold to go away, by using a neti pot or by seeking care from a physician if you think you have a sinus infection and finding out whether you might need nasal steroids or antibiotics. Talking about draining sinus infections, I'm Dr. David Hill.

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