Dr. John: Sinus pain, insomnia

12:00 PM, Jan 30, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - Dr. John Torres from Premier Urgent Care answers your questions every week. If you have a medical question for Dr. John, send it to mornings@9news.com and make sure to have Ask Dr. John in the subject line.

Question #1
Hi Dr. John, This summer I experienced severe frontal sinus pain one week and discovered I had a sinus infection. I took Augmentin for 14 days and felt much better after that. However, the frontal sinus pressure returned. My doctor thought it was allergies, but I still think I have the infection there and am afraid it could spread. Is there any tests that can be done to verify? What is your advice? Thanks! Sincerely, Jose

Sinus pain happens frequently this time of the year but sinus pain isn't always a sinus infection or sinusitis. Sinusitis symptoms usually include facial pain either above the eyes or in the cheek area. This pain is oftentimes described as a type of pressure. The nose typically has a purulent, or greenish, discharge and a person with a sinus infection often complains of upper tooth pain as well. These pains and pressures usually increase if the person bends forward with their face down. Allergy symptoms usually don't have the purulent discharge or tooth pain associated with them. Certain images can give you and your doctor a more clear idea of what is happening with the sinuses and help determine if what you are suffering from is in fact a sinus infection. These include an xray, CT scan or MRI. An Ear,Nose and Throat specialist can also use a nasal endoscopy, a small type of camera inserted into the sinuses to look directly at them, to see if an infection is present. If it does prove to be a hard to treat sinus infection then longer antibiotics, decongestants and nasal saline spray can help both treat the sinus infection and help relieve some of the symptoms. If sinusitis becomes a recurring problem then your ENT surgeon might talk to you about a possible sinus surgery in the near future.

Question #2
Dear Dr. Torres, Would you please talk more about insomnia. I'm a terrible insomniac, sleep maybe 4 hours the most, but I already tried melatonin, valerian, hot milk, etc.. but nothing helps. So I would like to know about more natural remedies. Thank you. Sincerely, Marika

Insomnia means someone has a difficult time falling asleep, a hard time staying asleep or both. This is a very common problem, especially in today's fast moving, high stress environment. Causes of insomnia include stress, environmental issues like high noise levels and certain medications. Other causes are depression and pain that keeps us up at night. There is also something known as "learned insomnia" which is basically where our bodies gradually get used to not sleeping very well so it's hard to actually get a normal nights sleep. Diagnosing insomnia is usually something done based on symptoms and history. You can help yourself and your doctor better figure out if this is an issue by keeping a simple sleep journal, outlining every morning how the prior nights sleep went. A sleep study, using videotaped analysis of your sleep in a specifically set up lab, can also help pinpoint what your sleep issues might be. Although there are a variety of sleep medicines out there they should only be used for short periods of time. Long term behavioral therapy and even light therapy might help too. There is also a treatment known as sleep restriction, where a person with insomnia gradually gets less and less sleep until they are tired to the point of getting a full nights sleep. This is best done with professional help. But for all of us, sleep hygiene is very important. This means setting up our room so it is only used for sleep and relationships. Take out the TV and computer, don't bring a tablet or laptop to bed with you and make sure you don't stay up in bed reading a book. All of these things condition our body to believe that it's ok to be in bed and not asleep. Also, avoid caffeine after 5pm, or noon if it strongly affects you, and for the last 30 minutes prior to going to bed dim the lights in the house and start playing softer music. These steps will give you your best bet at getting a good night's sleep.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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