Diagnosing & Treating a Sinus Infection Online

Sinus infections are one of the most commonly treated conditions by TelaCare physicians. Sinus infections are often mistaken for the common cold, but they are different conditions. While the two conditions are similar, the most likely symptoms for a sinus infection might include:

  • Thick, yellow, foul-smelling discharge from your nose
  • Pressure or pain around the eyes or cheeks
  • Cold like symptoms that won't go away or get worse
  • Fever

Many people think antibiotics are the number one treatment for sinus infections, but this is usually not the case. According to guidelines released by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, 90 to 98 percent of sinus infections aren't caused by bacteria, meaning antibiotics will not work. Antibiotics are typically used to treat infections or diseases caused by bacteria. If your case of sinusitis is viral, antibiotics will be ineffective. In fact, antibiotics can be harmful to you if used inappropriately. Doctors can help determine if you have sinusitis, the type of sinusitis, if treatment is needed, or if a referral to a specialist is required.

During a video consult on TelaCare your doctor will ask you a series of targeted questions to determine if your symptoms point to a sinus infection. Then your provider will proceed to determine the best treatment plan for you. Your provider may recommend in-person examination by a specialist if this is needed. Your treatment plan is based on the duration and severity of your symptoms and your medical history.Be prepared to discuss any past treatments you have had for sinusitis. Along with these questions, the doctor may ask you to take your temperature, shine a light on your sinuses, touch your neck and cheeks and report what you feel.

Once a diagnosis has been made, your doctor will go over the risks and benefits of the various treatment plans. Depending on the cause and severity of the infection, your treatment plan may include:

  • Home treatment options to help promote nasal drainage and ease symptoms i.e. salt water rinses
  • A recommendation of over the counter (OTC) medications including:
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories i.e. Ibuprofen
    • Mucinex
    • Vaporub
    • Decongestants
    • Nasal sterioids i.e. Nasacort
    • Oral or nasal antihistamine
  • If it is bacterial, antibiotics could be prescribed
  • A referral to a specialist

Note: To assess the severity of your infection the doctor may ask for your temperature, if possible it would be best to take your temperature before starting the call.

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Got Questions? We've got answers.

See below for answers to some of our most common questions. You can also call us anytime 24 hours a day at 1-800-317-0280 to speak to a medical professional about your symptoms or conditions.



 What is an online doctor visit?

TelaCare is an affordable, convenient way to resolve routine medical conditions. Our unique, secure, technology makes it possible to see a doctor, face to face, without you having to leave your home on your smartphone, desktop or telephone. With video, providers can look, listen and engage with you to diagnose your health concerns and provide an effective treatment plan.

 How long does a sinus infection last?

Sinus infections can last many days. Viral sinus infections are usually the worst 3 to 6 days after they start, and then begin to get better by day 10. A viral sinus infection can develop into a bacterial infection, which typically lasts longer than 10 days. Once a bacterial sinus infection is diagnosed and treated, patients usually respond to antibiotics in 2-3 days and sinus infections resolve anywhere between 7-14 days after that.

There are three types of sinusitis and they are based on the length of your symptoms:   

  • Acute Sinusitis - symptoms lasting for less than 4 weeks
  • Subacute Sinusitis - symptoms lasting for 4-12 weeks
  • Chronic Sinusitis - symptoms lasting for more than 12 weeks

 Is my online doctor visit private and secure?

Yes, we feel it is of utmost importance to maintain patient privacy and keep information secure. TelaCare is designed to be a private, secure, HIPAA-compliant tool that allows you to safely and confidentially consult with a doctor online.


 Is a sinus infection contagious?

Sinus infections are usually caused by bacteria or viruses. These bacteria or viruses can sometimes spread from person to person. In most cases, sinus infections are not contagious, but if you start to develop a fever, you may be dealing with a viral infection, which is contagious.


 Can I get a prescription online?

Yes, in general you can get a prescription online. There is support for this nationwide, however there are several exceptions. 


 Can medical forms like sick slips or doctors notes be provided?

Doctors on TelaCare are able to provide simple forms like sick slips or back to work/school documents as clinically appropriate. Be sure to request the documentation before ending your conversation. Please note that doctors on TelaCare are not able to provide more substantial documents like FMLA forms, disability forms or handicap/DMV documents as these documents require in in-person evaluation.

 Can a doctor on TelaCare be my regular provider?

Unfortunately, no. Doctors on TelaCare are there to support your care between office visits, such as when you are traveling or when you have a non-emergency or low acuity health condition.

 Do I need to create an account to see a doctor on TelaCare?

Yes, you do need to create an account before you can speak to a doctor on TelaCare. The account creation process is simple and takes just a few moments. We recommend you set up your account now so it’s ready when you need it. Once your account is created, you can use the mobile app or website using the same username and password.

 How much does an online doctor visit on TelaCare cost?

The cost of a visit is included in your membership, compared to the average national cost of $139 for an office visit or $645 for an emergency room visit, and may be even less as some employers have group plans with TelaCare. Contact your Human Resources department to see if your visit is covered with TelaCare. This cost does not include the cost of any prescriptions, follow-up lab work or follow-up visits if deemed applicable.

 Can my kids see a doctor on TelaCare?

Children, under the age of 18, may be easily added to your TelaCare account. If your child is over the age of 18 then you can add them but they must complete their own profile and request consults on their own.

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