Can You Go to Urgent Care for a Sinus Infection?

According to a recent study, approximately 12% of Americans below the age of 45 deal with chronic sinus infections (sinusitis). People with allergies, or respiratory conditions, such as asthma, are more predisposed than others to develop this condition.

However, as the severity of symptoms can vary on a case-by-case basis, many people are unsure of what treatment options are available to them or when they should visit urgent care.

Table of Contents

About Sinus Infections

Sinus infections are a common condition, and are also one of the most common 

reasons why a general practitioner will prescribe antibiotics. This is because it can be an effective way to relieve the symptoms of sinusitis, such as: 

  • A blocked nose and reduced sense of smell
  • Pain/swelling around the face, especially around your cheeks
  • Headaches/migraines
  • High temperatures (above 38)
  • Green/yellow discharge from nose

According to the CDC, sinus infections happen when fluid builds up in the air-filled pockets in the face (sinuses). This fluid buildup allows germs to grow. In addition to respiratory conditions, smokers or those with weakened immune systems may be more likely to contract sinusitis. 

When Should You Seek Medical Help for a Sinus Infection?

Many of those dealing with sinusitis are able to treat the condition at home, using over-the-counter remedies such as nasal decongestants. However, it is generally advised that you seek medical help for a sinus infection if your symptoms are severe and interfering with your daily life, or if they do not improve after a week. 

You may also want to seek out help if you are dealing with chronic or persistent sinus infections as surgical interventions may be necessary.  

Can You Go to Urgent Care for a Sinus Infection?

Urgent care facilities are designed to provide you with access to the healthcare support you need, regardless of what symptoms you are dealing with. As a result, if you are dealing with a severe or prolonged sinus infection, you should reach out to an urgent care facility and consult with a medical professional. 

When to Go to Urgent Care for a Sinus Infection?

As discussed previously, you should go to urgent care for a sinus infection if: 

  • Your symptoms are severe
  • Over the counter or pharmacist-prescribed treatments are not working
  • You have been ill for over a week
  • You have a respiratory condition such as severe asthma and feel as though you are more breathless than usual
  • You’re dealing with repeat infections

When to See a Specialist?

If you deal with repeat infections or chronic sinusitis, then you may want to request to see a specialist, such as an ENT. ENTs are Ear, Nose and Throat specialists who can offer more comprehensive care to those dealing with sinus issues. For example, they may want to try out surgical interventions. 

What Other Treatment Options Are There?

There are a range of non-surgical interventions or treatment options available to those with sinus infections. This can include: 

  • A prescription of antibiotics 
  • Decongestant nasal sprays
  • Steaming 
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Getting plenty of rest and sleep

Try Virtual Urgent Care

If you’d like more advice, but don’t have the time to stop by your local urgent care center, you may want to consider virtual urgent care. We’re open 24/7, and can quickly put you in contact with a healthcare professional who can assess your symptoms, provide you with a formal diagnosis and suggest relevant treatments. 

As a result, this can be a quick and easy way to ensure your healthcare needs are addressed – without even leaving your home!


At What Point Should You Go to the Doctor for a Sinus Infection?

If you feel overwhelmed by your symptoms, or are unable to shake off the infection, you should go to the doctor. They will be able to provide you with advice on your next step, or even ways in which you can reduce your pain/symptoms. 

Can Urgent Care Centers Diagnose and Treat Sinusitis?

Urgent care centers (even virtual ones) are run by medical professionals who have the necessary qualifications to diagnose and treat a range of conditions, including sinusitis. 

Should You Go to Urgent Care for Sinus Infection?

You should go to urgent care for a sinus infection if you are worried about your symptoms and want to receive help and support when clearing the infection. However, if you want to avoid the wait times that are associated with in-person care, you should opt for ‘visiting’ a virtual urgent care facility instead.

When Is Sinusitis an Emergency?

Most people who deal with sinusitis do not need emergency care. However, in rare cases, the infection can spread to other areas of your body, which may put you at risk of further complications. For example, some studies have found a link between sinusitis and meningitis.

When Should I See a Specialist for a Sinus Infection?

As with any healthcare complaint, you should see a specialist when the condition interferes with your ability to go about your daily life, or if it becomes a repeat issue that you deal with time and time again. This is because it indicates your current treatment methods are ineffective. 

What Can I Do to Prevent Getting a Sinus Infection in the Future?

There are many ways in which you can reduce your chances of developing a sinus infection. This includes: 

Cutting down on, or quitting, smoking.
Staying on top of allergy medication, or removing triggers.
Following a healthy lifestyle to build up your immune system.
Stay up to date on flu shots and other vaccinations.
Wash your hands regularly.

Key Takeaways

Sinus infections are incredibly common, but that does not mean they are not unpleasant to deal with. As a result, it’s important that you are aware of the various intervention methods you can rely on to deal with this condition – including virtual urgent care services. 


DrHouse articles are written by MDs, NPs, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. The contents of the DrHouse site are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are experiencing high fever (>103F/39.4C), shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest pain, heart palpitations, abnormal bruising, abnormal bleeding, extreme fatigue, dizziness, new weakness or paralysis, difficulty with speech, confusion, extreme pain in any body part, or inability to remain hydrated or keep down fluids or feel you may have any other life-threatening condition, please go to the emergency department or call 911 immediately.

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