What are the signs of Sinusitis? How is it treated?

Sinusitis occurs when the tissues lining the sinuses are inflamed or swollen. Fluid buildup in the sinuses is the leading cause of sinusitis. But other conditions can also cause sinus pain and symptoms. The most distinctive sign that people with sinusitis experience are intense pressure and pain behind the eyes. But what exactly is sinusitis, and how is it treated? These questions and the types, common symptoms, risk factors, and treatment of sinusitis will be addressed in this article. So, without further ado, let’s move ahead. 1

What is sinusitis?

  • Sinuses are the hollow spaces within the facial bones between the eyes, behind the cheekbones, and the forehead. These spaces are generally air-filled and contain no bacteria or germs.
  • The primary function of sinuses is to make mucus to keep the inside of your nose moist. This way offers protection against dust, pollutants, and allergens.
  • Sinusitis is the term used to denote the inflammation of the tissues lining these hollow sir – filled spaces.

Types of Sinusitis

  • Acute sinusitis usually starts with cold-like symptoms like runny study nose or facial pain. It may last for about 2 to 4 weeks. Acute sinusitis is most often caused by the bacteria growing in the sinuses.
  • Chronic sinusitis – These infections last for more than 12 weeks and recur even after that. They are often caused by bacteria or fungi.
  • Subacute sinusitis – This type of infection lasts anywhere between 4 to 12 weeks.
  • Recurrent acute sinusitis – a recurrent infection typically returns four or more times in a year. It lasts for at least 7 days or more each time.

Causes :

  • The main contributing factors for sinusitis are blockage of the sinus or buildup of too much mucus.
  • This can typically occur due to –
  • Common cold
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Nasal polyps
  • A deviated septum or nasal bone spur blocks the sinuses’ opening.

Signs and symptoms of Sinusitis

The symptoms of sinusitis are similar to that of the common cold. Some of the main signs that are commonly seen in viral sinusitis are 2

  • Pain, pressure, or fullness in the face, head, or around the eyes.
  • Cough or congestion.
  • “Stuffed up” nose.
  • Loss of smell.
  • Runny nose.
  • Postnasal drip.
  • Sinus headaches.
  • Tenderness in the face, especially at the bridge of the nose or under the eyes.
  • Symptoms do not get better within 10 days of getting sick or worsen after getting better initially.

Other symptoms that are often seen with sinusitis :

  • Fever longer than 3 – 4 days.
  • Bad breath.
  • Fatigue.
  • Dental pain.
  • Sore throat and hoarse voice.

Risk factors :

Certain factors increase the risk of developing sinusitis. Some of them are as follows :

  • A previous cold.
  • History of seasonal allergies.
  • Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Structural problems with the sinuses such as nasal polyps.
  • Individuals with weak immune systems.
  • People taking immunosuppressants.

Treatment of Sinusitis

Anti optics are generally not recommended for sinus infections. Still, the doctors might advise them in some cases, depending on your condition.

Sometimes, the physician may choose to go with watchful waiting or delayed antibiotic prescription.

  • Watchful waiting – Physicians most often suggest waiting for a couple of days to see if the child’s health gets better on its own. The child will be asked to rest, consume extra fluids and pain relievers during this period.
  • Delayed prescribing – If the child’s health worsens after 2 to 3 days or if the symptoms continue to aggravate, the doctor prescribes the antibiotics. 

Over–the–counter medications: 

Nasal decongestants like oxymetazoline help to relieve sinus infection symptoms in the short term. They should, however, not be used for more than 3 days.

Always use nasal sprays with caution. Prolonged use of nasal sprays can make your symptoms worse.

Steroid nasal sprays such as fluticasone, triamcinolone, or mometasone are better alternatives to nasal decongestants. They help with nasal congestion without the risk of rebound symptoms following prolonged use. 

Antihistamine and decongestants such as Sudafed, cetirizine, fexofenadine, or loratadine can also offer some relief from sinus infections. These are particularly beneficial if the person also experienced allergies.

Some people are generally not recommended decongestants to aggravate their health conditions. People with the following conditions are usually advised to refrain from using decongestants –

  • High blood pressure.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Prostate issues.
  • Sleeping difficulties.

Nasal irrigation (primary treatment for chronic sinusitis) – 

This method is effective in chronic rhinosinusitis, acute sinusitis, and postnasal drip. Nasal solutions are usually made by mixing 1 cup of sterile warm water with a ½ teaspoon of table salt or baking soda. It is then sprayed into the nose using a nasal sprayer or other sinus rinsing system.

Herbal remedies – 

Specific herbal remedies have shown beneficial effects in treating acute sinus infections.

The most popular ones are the oral capsule of essential oils, GeloMyrtol forte (sold as Myrtle 300 in the United States), and an oral mixture of herbs called Sinupret.

Although studies have supported using these herbs for treating sinus infections, be sure to consult with your physician before taking them.

Antibiotics –

Amoxicillin is the most commonly prescribed antibiotics to treat sinusitis that has been caused by bacteria. 

It is typically prescribed only after other remedies like steroidal spray, nasal irrigation, and pain relievers have failed to relieve the patient.

Antibiotics are prescribed for sinus infections that have lasted for more than 10 days.

Other home remedies –

  • Staying hydrated helps to thin mucus to ease nasal congestion. Drinking warm tea, broth, or other hot liquids relieves the discomfort of nasal congestion.
  • Breathing in the steam from a bowl of hot water or the shower can also offer some relief.
  • Avoid yelling, whispering, or singing if your voice is hoarse.
  • Putting a warm compress over the nose or forehead helps to relieve sinus pressure.

Prevention of sinus infections

  • Avoid exposure to nasal irritants like tobacco smoke, as this can damage the natural protective elements of the nose.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Use a humidifier, especially in the cool or dry months, to moisten the air at home.
  • Washing your hands frequently in the cold and flu seasons helps keep the sinuses from getting infected.
  • Keep your allergies under control by taking appropriate preventive measures
  • Receive the recommended flu and pneumococcal vaccines.

When to see the doctor? :

Suppose the fever, nasal discharge, congestion, or facial pain lasts for more than 10 days. In that case, it’s essential to visit the ENT specialist for diagnosis.

The bottom line :

Sinus infections can affect people of all age groups. Although it’s pretty common to mistake it for a common cold, make sure to consult with your physician if the symptoms last for more than 10 days. Once diagnosed with it, strictly adhere to the medications or lifestyle changes recommended by the physician, as sinusitis is a recurring infection. If your condition fails to improve despite all this, consult with the doctor before going for surgery, as this should always be kept as a last resort to treat sinusitis. Most importantly, don’t panic if you have sinusitis, as it can be treated with proper medical care and lifestyle modifications. 

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