What are sinuses?
- Frontal sinuses over the eyes in the brow area
- Maxillary sinuses inside each cheekbone
- Ethmoid sinuses just behind the bridge of the nose and between the eyes
- Sphenoid sinuses behind the ethmoids in the upper region of the nose and behind the eyes
What is sinusitis?
Signs and symptoms of sinusitis
- Congestion that makes it difficult for breathing through nose
- A sore throat
- Pain, tenderness and swelling around eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead
- A headache when you wake up in the morning is typical of a sinus problem.
- Bad breath or loss of smell
- Pain in eyes: The ethmoid sinuses are near the tear ducts in the corner of your eyes. Therefore, inflammation of these cavities often causes swelling of the eyelids and tissues around your eyes, and pain between your eyes.
- Reduced sense of smell or taste
- A cough
- Tooth pain
- Bad breath
Possible causes of sinusitisThe most common causes of sinusitis are a viral, bacterial or fungal infection of the upper respiratory tract including viruses that cause the common cold.
Inflammation that occurs with allergies may easily block sinuses because it is the very same mechanism.
- Deviated nasal septum
In this condition, the wall between the nostrils, usually called- the nasal septum is crooked or unsymmetrical, which may restrict or block sinus passages, creating a perfect environment for infections.
- Nasal polyps
Growths of tissue may restrict the nasal passages, slowing drainage and allowing infections to grow.
- Other medical conditions
Several other conditions can affect sinuses also. For example, people with cystic fibrosis or HIV and other immune deficiency diseases are more likely to develop sinusitis compared to the healthy individuals!
Risk factors for developing sinusitis
- Having asthma
- Overuse of nasal decongestants
- Chronic drug misuse (snorting substances)
- Having a foreign body in your nose
- Frequent swimming or diving
- Dental work
- Changes in altitude (flying or diving)
- Air pollution and smoking
- Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Hospitalization that involves installed nasogastric tube
Complications of sinusitis
The infection may spread to the bones of your eyes or to the membranes that protect your brain called meninges, causing severe brain damage. It can be a fatal condition!
- Vision problems
Although it happened rarely, some patients experienced reduced vision or even blindness if the infection spread to their eye socket.
- Blood vessel complications
Infection that spreads to the veins around sinuses can cause aneurysms and blood clots that interfere with the blood supply to your brain, which can lead to infarctions!
Diagnosis of sinusitis
- Blood tests
These tests are done to rule out other conditions associated with sinusitis like an immune deficiency disorder or cystic fibrosis.
These are special blood tests which are done to detect bacterial or fungal infection.
A biopsy is done to determine the health state of the cells lining the nasal cavity.
Treatment of sinusitis
- Acute sinusitis
If a person is diagnosed with acute sinusitis, several treatment options could be beneficial. The most common may include the use of:
- Decongestants to reduce congestion
- Antibiotics to control a bacterial infection, if present
- Pain relievers to reduce any pain
Problem is that sometimes patients are using these over-the-counter or prescription decongestant nose drops and sprays for to long! They should be used for only a few days because they can lead to even more congestion and swelling of nasal passages. If a virus causes the sinusitis, then the antibiotics will not help and the condition will usually resolve spontaneously in a few days!
- Chronic sinusitis
Doctors often find it difficult to treat chronic sinusitis successfully, because the symptoms persist even after taking antibiotics for an extended period. Many general practitioners are treating chronic sinusitis as though it is an infection, by using antibiotics and decongestants, but not with success. Others use both antibiotics along with steroid nasal sprays.
- Inhaling steam from a vaporizer or a hot cup of water
- Saline nasal spray can give relief.
- Gentle heat applied over the inflamed area is comforting.
Surgery for sinusitis
Tips for prevention of sinusitis
- Minimize the risk of upper respiratory infections, which can be done by limiting close contact with people who have colds and washing hands frequently with soap and water.
- Quit smoking. Tobacco smoke can cause irritation and inflammation of the lining of the sinuses and nose. Inflammation can result in blocked nasal passages.
- Avoid polluted air. Contaminants in the air can irritate and inflame your lungs and nasal passages.
- Use of humidifiers
- Steam your sinuses often by inhaling steam several times a day. It will stimulate drainage from the sinuses.
- Warm compresses should be applied daily.
- Every person diagnosed with sinusitis should drink as many fluids as it can because diluting secretions and promoting drainage by consuming additional liquids is very beneficial.
- Don't drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol can worsen the swelling of the lining of the sinuses and nose.
- Have flu vaccinations
- Keep your allergy symptoms under control
- Avoid swimming in pools treated with chlorine, which irritates the lining of the nose and sinuses.