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What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is swollen or infected linings of the sinuses. The sinuses are hollow spaces in the bones of your face and skull. They connect with the nose through small openings. Like the nose, they are lined with membranes that make mucus.

How does it occur?

Sinusitis occurs when the sinus membranes swell or are infected. The passageways between sinuses and the nose are very narrow. Swelling of the sinus linings causes them to produce large amount of mucus. The swelling and the extra mucus may block the passageways. This leads to pressure changes in the sinuses that can be painful. A number of irritants can cause swelling and sinusitis. Sinusitis often occurs after a cold, but not always. Infections from bacteria, viruses, fungi can also cause sinusitis. If the nasal bones have been injured or deformed, causing partial blockage of the sinus openings, the chances of getting sinusitis gets higher.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • Feeling pressure in the head
  • Headache that is most painful when you first wake up in the morning and when you bend your head down or forward
  • Tenderness above, behind or below your eyes
  • Ache in the upper jaw and teeth
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough, especially at night
  • Fluid draining in the back of your throat (post-nasal drainage)
  • Sore throat in the morning or evening
How is sinusitis diagnosed?

The doctor will start the diagnosis by asking the symptoms followed by examination. Investigative examination includes X-ray to look for swelling, fluid or small benign growths (polyps) in the sinuses.

What are the treatment options for sinusitis?

As the first step of the treatment modality, generally the doctor prescribes an antibiotic or decongestant for several weeks. Medicines for pain like Acetaminophen or Aspirin can also be taken. Antihistamines or nasal sprays (steroids) are used to treat the allergies that cause (recurrent) sinus infections.

As a next step, surgery is applied to treat chronic, severe sinusitis that does not respond to the medicines. The surgeon creates an extra or enlarged passageway in the wall of the sinus cavity. This allows the sinuses to drain more easily through the nasal passages and help them stay free of infection. This allows the sinuses to drain more easily through the nasal passages. This should help them stay free of infection. 

How long will the effect of the treatment stay?

Symptoms may improve gradually over 3 to 10 days. Depending on what caused the sinusitis and how severe it is, it may last for days, weeks or months.

How can sinusitis be prevented?
  • Prompt treatment of colds and allergies is the first step to prevent sinusitis.
  • Usage of decongestants at the start of symptoms
  • No smoking
  • Drinking lots of fluids
  • Humidifying home if the air is particularly dry
  • If sinusitis continues to be a problem despite treatment, investigation for polyps or a deformed bone should be done



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