Last updated date: 02-Feb-2023
Originally Written in English
Sinusitis is a condition in which the tissue lining the sinuses becomes inflamed or swollen. The sinuses comprise four pairs of cavities or the spaces within the head, including frontal, maxillary, ethmoid, and sphenoid sinus. A network of narrow channels links them. Sinuses produce thin mucus that drains through the nose's channels. This drainage maintains the nose clean and bacteria-free.
The sinuses, which are normally filled with air, may become blocked or filled with fluid. As a result, bacteria will develop and lead to an infection (bacterial sinusitis). Rhinosinusitis is another name for this condition, with “rhino” referring to the nose. When sinus tissue is inflamed, the nasal tissue usually swells.
Types of Sinusitis
There are different types of sinusitis that can last for varying periods; they include;
Acute sinusitis This is described as an abrupt onset of common cold symptoms, including stuffy nose, running nose, or facial pain. It normally lasts longer than ten days. Acute sinusitis can also refer to symptoms that tend to improve but then reappear and are worse compared to the previous signs.
It may be hard to breathe from the nose if you have acute sinusitis. You can notice sinusitis swelling around your eyes and face, as well as throbbing facial pain or a headache.
- Chronic sinusitis
The signs of chronic sinusitis last for up to three months or even more and are usually milder. In such cases, a sinusitis bacterial infection might be to blame. On the other hand, chronic sinusitis is often associated with constant allergies or systemic nasal complications.
This popular condition causes the nose to become stuffy by interfering with the natural drainage of mucus. It might be difficult to breathe with the nose, and the region surrounding your eyes may be tender or swollen.
Signs and Symptoms of Sinusitis
The signs and symptoms of sinusitis can vary based on the duration it lasts and the severity. In most cases, both acute and chronic sinusitis may be associated with the following;
- Pain in the sinuses
Sinusitis is often characterized by pain. The body is made up of many different sinuses, both above and below the eyes and also behind the nose. When you develop a sinus infection, all of these can be painful.
Your sinuses will ache with tedious pressure due to swelling and inflammation. You might experience pain around your forehead, either side of the nose, upper jaws, and teeth, or in the space between your eyes. This could result in a severe headache.
- Nasal congestion
Inflamed sinuses can sometimes make it difficult to breathe via the nose. The sinuses, as well as nasal passages, swell as a result of the infection. You will not smell or even taste as usual due to the severe nasal obstruction. It's also likely that your tone will become stuffy.
- Nasal discharge
You might have to blow your nose from time to time if you have a sinus infection. This is because of nasal discharge, which may be cloudy, yellow, or green. The affected sinuses produce a discharge that leaks through the nasal passages.
The discharge can also flow down the back of the throat, bypassing the nose. An itch, a tickle, or sometimes a sore throat can occur. This is known as postnasal drip, and it can make you cough during the night while you're sleeping and in the morning when you wake up. Your voice can become hoarse as a result of this.
- Sinus headaches
The constant pressure and swelling in the sinuses can cause headache symptoms. Earaches, dental pain, and pain in the jaws and cheeks are also symptoms of sinusitis pain. Since fluids have been accumulating all night, sinus headaches are always at their worst during the morning. As the barometric pressure in the atmosphere shifts abruptly, it can aggravate your headache.
- Cough and throat irritation
When sinus discharge flows down the back of the throat, it can irritate you, particularly if you have it for an extended period. This can result in a persistent infuriating cough that gets worse if you lie down to sleep or when you first get out of bed in the morning.
This could also make it difficult to sleep. You can make coughing less frequent and intense by sleeping upright or with your head slightly raised.
When to See a Doctor
Sinusitis is normally treatable at home. You can, however, see a doctor if you experience the following symptoms:
- Extreme symptoms that do not resolve even with over-the-counter (OTC) treatment
- Symptoms that last for more than ten days without any improvement
- Changes in your vision or swelling near the eyes
- Gets worse after improving
- A fever that lasts longer than 3 to 4 days or is above 101.5°F
Causes of Sinusitis
Sinusitis can develop from a variety of factors. However, it mostly occurs when fluid gets stuck in the sinuses, enabling germs to thrive. A virus is the most popular cause, although a bacterial infection may also cause sinusitis.
Allergies and asthma, as well as contaminants in the environment, including pesticides and other irritants, may be triggers. On the other hand, fungal sinusitis may occur due to fungi and molds.
Risk Factors of Sinusitis
The following factors can raise the chances of getting a sinusitis problem;
- A past respiratory tract infection, including the common cold.
- Nasal polyps, small benign growths that can block the nasal passage and cause inflammation.
- Seasonal allergies
- Dust sensitivity, pollen sensitivity, and animal hair sensitivity
- A compromised immune system as a result of medicine or a medical condition
- A septum that is deviated
Is Sinus Infection Contagious?
While bacterial sinusitis cannot be transmitted, viruses that cause sinusitis can be spread from one person to another. Therefore, you should wash your hands often, avoid contact with anyone if you're sick, and cough or sneeze into your elbow if necessary.
Complications of Sinusitis
Complications from acute sinusitis are unusual, and severe complications are even rarer. However, some of the side effects that might occasionally arise include;
Severe sinusitis: Acute sinusitis is sometimes a symptom of a long-term condition called chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis is described as sinusitis that lasts more than 12 weeks.
Meningitis: The membranes as well as fluid covering the brain and spinal cord become inflamed as a result of this infection.
Occurrence of other infections: In rare cases, an infection may spread towards the skin (cellulitis) or the bones (osteomyelitis).
Issues with the vision: In a situation where the infection spreads and affects the eye socket, it can result in vision loss or even permanent blindness.
The sinusitis doctor will begin by inquiring about the symptoms you are experiencing and perform a physical test to diagnose a sinus infection. By gently pressing a finger on the head and cheeks, they will look for pressure or tenderness. They can even analyze for signs of inflammation on the inside of the nose.
The doctor often diagnoses a sinus infection depending on the signs or symptoms and the physical examination findings. The doctor may prescribe imaging tests to evaluate the nasal passages and sinuses if you have a chronic infection. Mucus blockages and irregular structures, like polyps, can be detected using these tests. A CT scan creates a three-dimensional image of the sinuses. An MRI creates pictures of internal systems using strong magnets.
At times, the doctor can opt for a fiberoptic scope. This is an illuminated tube that goes through the nose. It allows viewing of the inner nasal pathways and sinuses directly. During a nasal endoscopy, a sample may be taken for culture testing to determine the existence of an infection.
An allergy test determines which irritants are likely to cause an allergic reaction. HIV and other diseases that suppress the immune system may be detected using a blood test.
Treatment Options for Sinusitis
The sinusitis treatment can vary in different ways based on the severity of the condition. But in most cases, doctors will recommend the following forms of treatment;
- Over-the-counter drugs
Short-term relief from sinus infection symptoms can be obtained using a nasal decongestant spray, such as oxymetazoline. However, you can only use it for three days at a time. Prolonged use can result in a relapse of nasal congestion. Also, note that the use of nasal sinusitis spray to manage the infection for an extended will worsen the symptoms.
Antihistamines and decongestants, as well as other over-the-counter medications, can assist with sinus infections, especially if you have allergies. Some of the most common medicines of this type are Sudafed, Allegra, Zyrtec, and Claritin.
Doctors do not always recommend decongestants for people who have high blood pressure, prostate problems, sleep problems, or glaucoma. Before using any of these medications, consult your doctor to ensure that they are the right option for your particular medical issue.
If the symptoms fail to improve after several weeks, you're possibly suffering from a bacterial infection, and you should consult a doctor. Antibiotic treatment is necessary if you experience symptoms that don't go away after a few weeks. They can include a running nose, coughing, congestion, persistent headaches or facial pain, swelling of the eye, or a fever.
If the doctor prescribes an antibiotic, you'll have to take it for at least 3 to 14 days, according to the doctor's advice. Do not stop using the sinusitis medication sooner than as directed since it can cause the bacterial infection to aggravate and not completely resolve.
The sinusitis specialist may ask that you return for another appointment to track your condition. Alternatively, he or she can refer you to a nose, ear, and throat expert if your sinus infection fails to improve or worsens. Additional testing might be necessary to identify if allergies are causing your sinusitis.
If other forms of treatment fail to treat sinusitis, the doctor can suggest surgery. A surgical procedure, on the other hand, might not be able to solve the issue fully. Hence, the patient may be required to proceed with other treatments to prevent sinusitis from recurring after surgery.
In children with sinusitis, surgical intervention is usually the final resort. It’s usually a good idea to consider another option before proceeding with sinusitis surgery in children.
Additional Remedies for Sinusitis and Symptoms
- Nasal congestion
Nasal congestion is one of the most common sinus infection symptoms. Applying a soft, moist cloth on the face and forehead a few times per day helps relieve the discomfort of sinus pressure. Nasal saline rinses can aid in the removal of sticky, thick mucus in the nose.
Keep hydrated by drinking water or juice, as this will thin the mucus. Alternatively, you can opt for an over-the-counter (OTC) drug like guaifenesin that helps thin mucus.
To add more moisture to the surrounding in your house, you can use a humidifier. To create a steamy environment, switch on the shower and stay in the bathroom with the door closed.
In addition, you can use an over-the-counter nasal corticosteroid spray. Although decongestants are available over-the-counter, you should consult your doctor before using one.
- Nasal irrigation
Recent research has shown that nasal irrigation can help with acute and chronic sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, and seasonal allergies. If you're going to drink tap water, boil it first and then let it cool, or consider a water filtration device. Buying bottled water or opting for over-the-counter premixed solutions are two other choices.
You can make nasal solutions while at home by combining one cup of warm water with 1/2 teaspoon table salt and baking soda. Spray or pour the product through the nose with a nasal sprayer or a sinus rinsing device. The saline and baking soda solution helps clean out the sinuses' discharge, alleviate dryness, and flush out allergens.
You can prevent sinusitis by avoiding stuff that causes irritation on the nose and sinuses. Cigarette smoke makes you more susceptible to sinusitis. Furthermore, smoking can cause damage to the protective elements within the nose, throat, mouth, and respiratory tract.
If you require assistance stopping or want to quit, talk to your doctor about it. It could be a crucial step in avoiding both acute and chronic sinusitis episodes.
Clean your hands regularly, particularly during the flu or cold season. This helps prevent viruses or bacteria on your hands from irritating or infecting your sinuses.
Consult the doctor to check if allergies cause your sinusitis. You'll also need to manage your allergies if you are allergic to anything that triggers persistent sinus symptoms.
For allergic immunotherapy shots or other therapies, you might have to see an allergy specialist. Ensuring that your allergies are under control will help you avoid getting sinusitis again.
Sinusitis Recovery and Outlook
With the right treatment and medicine, acute sinusitis normally resolves in one or two weeks. Chronic sinusitis is more serious and might need a visit to a doctor or long-term therapy to correct the source of the frequent infections.
Unlike acute sinusitis, chronic cases may last for up to three months or longer. Maintaining proper hygiene, keeping the sinuses clear and moist, and addressing the symptoms promptly will all assist in shortening the infection's duration.
Patients with both acute and chronic conditions may benefit from a variety of therapies and procedures. Also, if you develop several acute events or chronic sinusitis, consulting a doctor will significantly boost the outlook following the infections.
Headaches Associated With Sinus Infection
Sinus headaches are a sign of a sinus infection, which causes facial pressure and discomfort. Sinusitis and headaches are more likely to occur when you have a cold or allergies. Sinus headaches, on the other hand, might be migraines associated with nasal signs. In such a situation, a physician will assist you in obtaining long-term relief.
In most cases, what most people mistake for a sinus headache is basically a migraine and nasal symptoms. A sinus infection causes an actual sinusitis head pressure, or headache to develop. Furthermore, sinus discomfort and pressure are symptoms of the condition.
Sinusitis in Children
Allergies are common among children, and they can also be susceptible to infections of the ears and nose. If your child exhibits the following symptoms, he or she might have a sinus infection:
- A common cold that lasts for more than seven days and is accompanied by a fever
- Swelling near the eyes
- Nasal sinusitis drainage that is thick and colored
- Postnasal drip that can lead to coughing, bad breath, nausea, and vomiting
Consult the child's physician to identify the appropriate care option for him or her. Acute sinusitis may be addressed with saline sprays, nasal sprays, and pain relievers. If your child is below the age of two, avoid giving him or her over-the-counter cold or cough medications or decongestants.
Even without antibiotics, most children normally recover completely from the sinus infection. Antibiotics are prescribed for children with serious sinusitis or those with other complications as a result of their sinusitis. In case your child fails to respond to medication or gets chronic sinusitis, the doctor can refer them to an otolaryngologist. This is a physician who specializes in ENT (ear, nose, and throat) problems.
To understand the source of infection well, an ENT specialist may take a culture of nasal drainage. He or she will also perform a thorough examination of the sinuses while looking for any structural issues with the nasal passages that can result in recurrent sinus problems.
Sinusitis vertigo does not occur in anyone who has a sinus infection. Nonetheless, those who have it often experience surprising symptoms. Although sinusitis vertigo is not fatal, it may indicate a more serious sinus infection. Such an infection would almost certainly need extensive care further than what OTC drugs offer.
Vertigo that occurs due to an accumulation of mucus within the Eustachian tube is known as sinusitis vertigo. The Eustachian tube connects the inner part of the ear to the throat. It is a part of the mechanism that assists you in maintaining your equilibrium. When the sinuses become inflamed as a result of a sinus infection, they are unable to drain appropriately. Mucus and fluid then accumulate in certain parts of the ear, nose, and throat, as well as the Eustachian tube.
Some people characterize their experience with sinusitis vertigo as dizzy or as if their balance is off due to their sinuses. However, it's vital to remember that vertigo is medically different from dizziness and balance issues. Vertigo is the feeling of spinning, whether you feel as though you are spinning or the room seems to be spinning.
When the sinus infection has progressed to a more advanced and severe level, you can begin to experience vertigo. Consult a doctor if you have sinusitis and are having vertigo at the same time. To prevent long-term sinusitis complications, you will need better care and medication than what you're already having.
Sinusitis and Pregnancy
Pregnancy comes with its range of signs and symptoms. You may feel physically and emotionally fine on some days and ill on others. During the three trimesters, most women can have morning sickness, exhaustion, or back pain.
Having sinusitis when pregnant and experiencing the pregnancy symptoms can be taxing on the body. Sinusitis can strike anytime during every trimester of pregnancy, including the first, second, and third.
The overproduction of estrogen in the body and the pregnancy hormone progesterone causes sinusitis. Progesterone causes nasal passages to swell and partly block air paths, whereas estrogen influences mucus formation. The increased blood flow in your body is often thought to affect the mucus membranes in the nose.
Sinusitis is a common disorder characterized by inflammation and swelling of the tissues within the sinus cavities. It’s normally caused by various factors such as viruses and bacteria, allergies, and nasal polyps. Facial strain, fever, and exhaustion are some of the signs and symptoms.
Resting, taking over-the-counter medications, and increasing fluid intake are the effective options for treating symptoms at home. If your symptoms fail to improve after a few days or if sinusitis often occurs and is associated with other symptoms that concern you, consult your doctor immediately.