Sinusitis is an inflammation of mucous membranes of the sinuses. The inflammation itself is the result of bacterial or viral infection. Among the several connected sinuses (cavities around the nose) usually the most affected ones are frontal sinuses (in the forehead just above the eyes) and maxillary sinuses (in the upper jaw).
Mucous membrane of the main nasal cavity continues to the mucous membrane of the sinuses, and the microorganisms that cause sinusitis, spread to the sinuses of the nose. This usually happens when a person catches cold, which is a viral infection; therefore complications occur because of secondary infections caused by bacteria.
Although sinusitis is often, some people never get while others get it as soon as they catch cold. The outbreak of the disease can occur due to damaged nasal bones, or even if the foreign body enters your nostrils. Nasal deformity, such as septal deviation, may increase the sensitivity due to obstruction in nasal hallways.
Sinusitis is not dangerous and does not cause any major complications if treated with antibiotics. Before its discovery, the infection sometimes spread through the mucous membranes of the sinuses into the bones, and even into the brain. Such complications are now almost nonexistent.
Sinusitis can be divided into:
• Acute – which lasts less than 3 weeks
• Chronic – which usually lasts at least 3-8 weeks and may continue for many months or even years
• Recurrent – several acute outbreaks over the period of a year.
Acute sinusitis usually occurs as a result of cold or allergies, which create preconditions for the emergence of infection. Acute sinusitis is usually caused by bacteria or viruses, and rarely by fungi. The bacteria that cause acute sinusitis most often are pneumococci, streptococci, Moraxalla catarrhalis and Haemophilus influenzae. There are a lot of healthy people in whom these bacteria are normally present in the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract, but with conditions where mucous membrane is inflamed and swollen and with impeded sinus ventilation, the number of bacteria could easily increase and develop sinus infection.
Chronic sinusitis can develop as a result of frequently repeated acute inflammations of sinuses, especially if they are not properly treated, although bacterial pathogens for this condition are often different from those that cause acute sinusitis. That is why gram-negative and anaerobic bacteria and fungi are quite often the cause of chronic sinusitis. There are many general and local factors that are also favorable to chronic sinusitis. People who are prone to allergies or suffer from allergies that can manifest with symptoms of respiratory tract related conditions (asthma, hay fever, etc.) because of their tendency of acute sinusitis often suffer from chronic sinusitis as well. Local factors that favor the development of chronic sinusitis may be a deviation of the nasal septum, nasal polyps, nasal deformities and nasal bones, inflammation of the upper jaw, teeth and other. General factors that create a tendency to this disease are certain chronic diseases that reduce resistance to infections (including HIV infection, cystic fibrosis and other serious illnesses).
After several days of cold, when you expect that you will be better, nasal congestion worsens, and the amount of greenish discharge increases. Later, your nose gets clogged even more due to blocked corridors between the nose and sinuses so the secretion of discharge ceases. You breathe through your mouth, you begin to speak through your nose and you feel completely collapsed.
If the infection spreads to the frontal sinuses, the main symptom is headache over one or both eyes; your head hurts most in the morning when you wake up. The lower part of the forehead, just above eyes is very sensitive to touch, so you’ll feel a piercing pain when you bend your head. If the infection spreads to the maxillary sinuses, you will feel pain on one or both sides of face. It will seem to you that you have a toothache in the upper jaw. Sometimes the sinusitis comes after dental treatment, because the infection spreads from the roots through the bone into the sinus.
In addition to broad-spectrum of antibiotics, your doctor may recommend means for nasal decongestion, in the form of tablets or drops or nasal spray. Means for the decongestion reduce swelling of mucosa by expanding the airways, but they must be used only as directed in the package or on the advice of a doctor: if you don’t stick to the directions, the drug may do more harm than good.
Continued treatment for sinusitis is unnecessary, if sinusitis doesn’t persist, otherwise the doctor will advise a small operation under local anesthesia: first the bone is pierced between the nose and sinuses to create an additional nasal passage, and then sinuses are rinsed with sterile water. This facilitates the blockage. A solution containing the rinsing is usually given to the analysis for the detection of pathogens and the best ways to prevent infections. It may be necessary (though rarely) to do another small operation to improve the drainage.
Sinusitis home remedies
Stay at home, in a room with the same temperature and high humidity level; dry, overly heated rooms aggravate symptoms. Carefully wipe your nose with a paper tissue and destroy it after use. Take aspirin or painkillers and inhale steam from the bowl with hot water.
If symptoms persist for longer than three to four days, contact your doctor who will likely confirm the diagnosis of sinusitis and recommend treatment.