Sinus Infection? Get a Sinus Culture and Know for Sure
Sinus infections are often treated as a single big problem, but within this category can lurk any number of different causes and pathogens. The range of bacteria that set up camp inside human sinuses can run the gamut from mild to aggressive, and understanding which is which is essential if you want to your treatment to stick.
How can you find these answers? Typically your sinus doctor will begin the diagnosis with some basic questions, but real answers inevitably come from a simple swab procedure known as a sinus culture. In it, a small swab is threaded into the nasal cavity either by hand or via endoscopic device, and a sample of sinus discharge is collected. Typically you can get an answer back in less than three days, and with that diagnosis comes a host of treatment options. Because different bacteria respond to different antibiotics, it is important that your sinus doctor shows up with the right tools for the job.
At the Los Angeles Sinus Institute, our in-house microbiology laboratory lets us do everything under one roof – exam, the diagnosis, and the treatment. But if you aren’t in the Los Angeles area or just want a more general approach, most ENTs also work with local laboratories to get cultures turned around quickly. The takeaway here is to insist on the sinus culture itself: do not rely on gut instinct or a visual exam before beginning antibiotics. Especially because physicians are increasingly reporting some virulent strains of bacteria that are resistant to many types of antibiotics, you want to know early what it is you’re up against. In the wild world of sinus infections, more info is always better.