Suffering from sinusitis? Here's everything you need to know about sinusitis.

December 02, 2018

Suffering from sunusitis? Facts, risk factors, symptoms, causes and treatment. Be prepared with home remedies for sinus infection and more.

So what is sinusitis? Who is most likely to be affected? What causes it? How do you recognise the symptoms? And what treatment options can you take to resolve it?

Some quick facts on sinusitis

Sinusitis is a common inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, the cavities that produce mucus necessary for nasal passages to work effectively.

It can be acute or chronic, and it can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, allergies, or even an autoimmune reaction.

Acute sinusitis is mostly caused by the common cold. It is a very common condition affecting almost everyone at some point in their lives.

A simple case of acute sinusitis usually gets resolved with home remedies within a span of a week to ten days. However, sinusitis that lasts more than 12 weeks despite medical treatment is called chronic sinusitis.

So what causes it to occur in the first place?

Sinusitis can stem from various factors, but it always results from fluid becoming trapped in the sinuses. This fuels the growth of germs.

How do I identify the symptoms?

Generally, symptoms vary, depending on the length and severity of the infection.

If a patient has two or more of the following symptoms -- thick, green or yellow nasal discharge, they may be diagnosed with acute sinusitis.

  • Facial pain and pressure
  • Blocked nose
  • Nasal discharge
  • Reduced sense of smell
  • Congestion
  • A cough

However, in more advanced cases, the following symptoms may also be present such as:

  • Fever
  • Foul-smelling breath
  • Tiredness
  • Toothache
  • Headache
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If these symptoms continue for 12 weeks or longer, the doctor may then diagnose it as chronic sinusitis.

What puts me at risk?

The following may increase a person's chance of developing sinusitis:

  • Frequent episodes of allergic rhinitis
  • Nasal polyps, or small growths in the nasal passage that can lead to inflammation
  • Weakened immunity, due to a health condition or some kinds of treatment
  • An allergic reaction to substances such as dust, smoking, pollen, and animal hair
  • Structural problems in the nose, for example, a deviated septum

The septum is the bone and cartilage that divides the nose into two nostrils. When this is bent to one side, either through injury or growth, it can lead to repeated infections and inflammation.

Are there different types of sinusitis?

Sinusitis always involves nasal swelling and a buildup of mucus, but there are different types, and they can last for different lengths of time.

The different types are:

  • Acute sinusitis: This lasts up to 4 weeks and is the most common type.
  • Subacute sinusitis: Symptoms last longer than the normal acute period, for between 4 and 12 weeks.
  • Chronic sinusitis: Symptoms persist, or continually return, after 12 weeks. It may need more invasive treatment, and possibly surgery.

Hence, recovery time and treatment depend on the type of sinusitis.

What are the tell-tale signs in order to diagnose the symptoms?

At first, your doctor would check for tenderness around the nose and forehead. This is usually enough to make a diagnosis.

Some of the investigations that your doctor may advise includes:

What's the treatment for sinusitis?

Luckily, most acute cases will resolve without treatment. However, sinusitis can get uncomfortable, so people often use home remedies and over-the-counter (OTC) medications to relieve symptoms. These include:

  • Saline nasal sprays to rinse your nasal passages
  • Nasal decongestants like oxymetazoline and xylometazoline
  • Nasal corticosteroids like fluticasone, mometasone etc
  • Pain relievers like paracetamol, ibuprofen etc
  • Antibiotics, if a bacterial infection is present.
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What happens if I ignore my symptoms and avoid taking any treatment? Would that complicate?

Good news is that complications associated with acute sinusitis are very uncommon. However, recurrent attacks of acute sinusitis may lead to:

  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Meningitis, if the infection spreads to the brain
  • Partial or complete loss of sense of smell
  • Rarely the infection may spread to other parts of the body

I don't have sinusitis! How can I keep it at bay?

  • Practice good hand hygiene.
  • Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.
  • Keep vaccinations up to date.
  • Stay away from people with colds and other respiratory infections.
  • Use a humidifier to moisten the air at home, and keep it clean.
  • Maintain air conditioning units to prevent mould and dust from collecting.
  • Where possible, avoid allergens.

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Additionally, here are a few lifestyle modifications you can make during an episode of acute sinusitis:

  • Take ample rest to help your body fight infection
  • Take regular steam inhalations
  • Use a warm compress over your face. Be sure that it is not too hot to burn the face
  • Sleep with your head slightly elevated. This will help in reducing the congestion.
  • Drink adequate fluids to keep yourself properly hydrated.
  • Drink warm vegetable soups and tea

Article by Dr. Anchal Pandey, D.N.B (Family Medicine)
Consultant Physician - CallHealth

Have a question? Consult Doctor Anchal online.

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