What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is one of the conditions caused due to sinus infections. There are various types of such infections which can be caused by different pathogens in different sinus cavities. For the layman, symptoms of these varying conditions can seem similar or may also be confused with symptoms of a cold or allergies. To avoid this confusion and ensure that you are using the correct medication for your condition, it is best to visit an ear, nose and throat specialist, especially if you are prone to sinus infections.
What are sinuses?
It is essential to know what sinuses or sinus cavities are before understanding the different kinds of sinus infections. We have four sinus cavities under our face. They are:
- Maxillary sinuses – the largest of all sinuses, they are located in the cheekbones, on both sides of the nose. They span approximately an inch in length (across).
- Frontal sinuses – they are located in the forehead, starting from the low centre of the forehead, extending to about the middle of the eyebrows. They also consist of two parts (one above each eyebrow).
- Ethmoid sinuses – they are located between the eyes, in the area commonly called the “nasal bridge.”
- Sphenoid sinuses – they are the smallest sinuses we have and are located near the bones of the skull, behind the nasal cavity and close to the ethmoid sinuses.
Our sinuses are lined with a soft, pink tissue called “mucosa”. Under normal circumstances, when no diseases are attacking the sinuses, they are empty except for a thin layer of mucus. The “nasal septum” is a thin wall in the centre of the nose, separating the sinuses. It separates the airways in the nose, dividing the nose into two nostrils. This is why sometimes, we have a stuffy nose on one side of the nose, but not the other.
What are the causes of Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is one of the conditions associated with the sinuses. Nasal polyps, paranasal sinuses and sinus disease are some other sinus problems. Sinusitis is caused by pathogens like bacteria, fungi and viruses. This condition can be classified into:
- Acute Sinusitis: it lasts only a short while and resolves spontaneously or with treatment
- Chronic Sinusitis: it is recurrent, problematic and distressing
Depending on the pathogen that has caused the condition, treatment options for Sinusitis may vary. Also, the type of Sinusitis decides if specialised treatment is required or not.
What are the symptoms of sinus problems?
Many primary symptoms characterise sinus problems. Additionally, there are chances that one would have a secondary infection or health problem as well.
Some signs and symptoms of sinus problems are:
- Stuffy nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Bad breath
- Cough that produces mucus
- Partial or complete loss of senses of smell and taste
- Pain slightly above the eyebrows
- Pressure around the nose
What are the solutions and treatment options?
As part of diagnosing the condition of Sinusitis, a sinus specialist takes the person’s medical history and performs a physical examination. This may be followed by a CT scan of the sinuses, which can be done in our office.
A course of treatment is designed depending on the pathogen that has caused the Sinusitis:
- Viral Sinusitis – usually lasts for around 10-14 days and can, in most cases, be treated with over the counter sinus medications like decongestants, saline nasal spray, saline nasal drops, pain relievers as well as by drinking lots of fluids (preferably water). Applying a warm, damp cloth to reduce the pain and swelling and using steam to help loosen the mucus are some more recommended home remedies.
- Bacterial Sinusitis – requires medical intervention. The doctor will plan your antibiotic therapy depending on your age, unique condition, health condition and extent of your infection. Bacterial Sinusitis may also be treated by the conventional treatment measures used for viral Sinusitis.
- Fungi Sinusitis – is a much rarer condition than the other two types. It may require steroid therapy or even surgery.
The treatment options also differ depending on whether your recurring Sinusitis symptoms result from allergies, which can be treated with prescription medication or allergy shots.
Returning episodes of sinusitis symptoms may indicate chronic Sinusitis, which may require specialised treatment. It is best to come to us for a medical evaluation in such cases to ensure that you receive the correct treatment for your condition.
Sinus problems are fairly common, especially viral and bacterial sinus infections. It is always best to consult a sinus specialist if you suspect you have Sinusitis before your symptoms aggravate. Call us to book an appointment and let our sinus specialist evaluate your condition. Begin your path to recovery with us!
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