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Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)
Sinusitis, also known as a sinus infection, is when the tissue lining of the sinuses are inflamed or swollen. Sometimes sinusitis is also called rhinosinusitis because the inflammation of the sinuses is almost always paired with inflammation of the nose. Typically, the sinuses are filled with air, but when they are blocked with fluid, now germs are growing and causing infections. Some conditions that lead to sinusitis are the common cold, allergic rhinitis, nasal polyps, and a deviated septum. Treatment includes antibiotics, warm compresses, saline nose drops, decongestants, etc. Americans spend more than $1 billion on medications each year to treat it and nearly 31 million people in the United States are affected by it.
Symptoms of Sinusitis
Sinusitis usually appears right after a cold or after a long time of rhinitis symptoms. A cold and sinusitis are sometimes mistaken for the other, but a sinus infection is caused by bacteria in the nasal passages. Sinusitis is also known for the painful pressure in the forehead and cheeks. At least two of the following symptoms must be present in order to diagnose the condition. These include: thick, discolored discharge from the nose, congestion, swelling around eyes, or reduced sense of smell or taste. You may also experience: toothache, ear pain, cough, congestion, postnasal drip, and thick yellow-green nasal discharge.
Causes of Sinusitis
There are a variety of different causes of chronic sinusitis. Nasal polyps are tissue growths that block the sinuses, which cause the infection. A deviated nasal septum may also block the sinuses. If you suffer from allergies, the inflammation that happens with allergies can block your sinuses. Respiratory tract infections can inflame sinus membranes and block your sinuses.
Risk Factors of Sinusitis
There are a variety of risk factors involved in sinusitis. You are at a high risk of sinusitis if you have asthma, allergies, or an immune system disorder. A deviated septum or nasal polyps also increases the risk for sinusitis.
Complications of Sinusitis
If you are experiencing a fever, pain or swelling in the face or eyes, redness around the eyes or cheeks, severe headaches, confusion, or a stiff neck, you will need to see your physician immediately. Any of these symptoms can be an indication of a serious infection that will need attention as soon as possible. You are at risk for meningitis if you have chronic sinusitis, which is an infection that causes inflammation of the membranes and fluid around your brain and spinal cord. The infection can sometimes also spread to the skin and bones. You may also notice that you have a loss of sense of smell or vision problems.
Prevention of Sinusitis
The best way to treat sinusitis is to avoid the triggers. Triggers can include allergens or cigarette smoke. It is best to avoid people with colds so that you do not also get an upper respiratory infection. If the air is dry in your home, it is best to use a humidifier. You will also want to schedule an appointment with your physician if you have sinusitis very frequently, if your symptoms last longer than seven days, or if your symptoms are not better once you see your physician.
Diagnosis of Sinusitis
Your allergist may recommend an allergy test to identify which allergens are causing sinus infections. In chronic cases, your physician may recommend a rhinoscopy or a nasal endoscopy. This procedure inserts a thin and flexible instrument into the nostrils to view the sinus passages. The physician can then look for blockages. If this does not help, the physician may recommend an MRI or a CT to look for any irregularities, such as polyps, deviated septum, or drainage passages. An allergy test may also be ordered if the sinusitis is being triggered by allergies. Once the allergen is known, then it is easier to avoid it and avoid sinusitis.
Treatment of Sinusitis
Many people are able to recover from acute sinusitis without the use of prescription medication. Oftentimes, just the use of decongestants or nasal sprays will help to relieve symptoms. A simple sinus saline recipe may also be a good option. Breathing in hot, moist air and washing nasal cavities with saline rinse will help relieve symptoms.
There are also a variety of home remedies that may help your symptoms. It is imperative that you get plenty of rest, drink fluids, and sleep with your head elevated. Rest will allow your body to fight off any infections. Fluids will help to dilute mucous and promote draining. You will want to only drink water and juice, as caffeine and alcohol can lead to dehydration or it can also worsen the swelling of the nasal passages. There are also many benefits to breathing in warm and moist air. This can be done in a hot shower, draping a towel over your head as you breathe in the vapor from a bowl of hot water, or applying a warm towel to your face.
Antibiotics may be necessary if you have a bacterial infection from sinusitis. If you have chronic sinusitis, then you may choose to go through immunotherapy, which will help control your allergies if they are causing sinusitis. In some cases, surgery is necessary to help remove tissue or polyps that are causing the blockage.
Summary of Sinusitis
Sinusitis is the inflammation of the sinuses. When the sinuses are blocked with fluid, they are at a higher cause for infection. There are a few reasons that you may suffer from sinusitis, and that is because of an upper respiratory infection, allergies, or a deviated septum. There are a variety of different treatments, which include antibiotics, saline rinses, decongestants, or warm compresses. Sinusitis should be treated if symptoms are recurring or last longer than seven days, as there are more serious complications that can occur. Your physician may recommend antibiotics, going through immunotherapy, or even surgery. Surgery will help to remove tissue or polyps that are causing sinusitis. The goal of treating sinusitis is to reduce the number of times it occurs by eliminating the cause, reduce sinus inflammation, and keep nasal passages draining.