This is an inflammation, swelling and infection of the nasal cavities. Germs grow because of fluid build-up in the sinuses resulting in an infection. Sometimes, allergens and bacteria can cause excessive mucus formation, blocking the openings of the sinuses. The majority of sinus infections are viral, and they go away in a week, without any treatment.
Head, neck, nose, face and eyes
Sinusitis or rhinosinusitis
Signs or Symptoms of Sinus Diseases
The signs and symptoms of sinus infection include:
- Pressure or pain in the sinuses, resulting in facial pain. Swelling and inflammation can cause the sinuses to ache.
- Pain in the forehead, either side of the nose, in the teeth and upper jaws and between the eyes, leading to a headache.
- The face might feel tender to touch, because of built-up pressure.
- Runny nose or nasal discharge that can be green, yellow or cloudy.
- Postnasal drip where nasal discharge bypasses the nose and drains down the back of the throat.
- Nasal congestion leads to a temporary loss of taste or smell.
- Cough and throat irritation due to nasal discharge.
- Difficulty sleeping upright or with the head elevated.
- Frequent coughing could also result in a hoarse voice.
- Halitosis or bad breath due to the mucus produced by infected sinuses
It is difficult to distinguish between allergies, colds and sinus infections. The common cold usually builds, rises and then disappears slowly. It can last for a few days and even weeks. A cold has a high chance of converting into a sinus infection. Nasal allergies caused due to dander, dust and pollen can cause symptoms like congestion, postnasal drip and runny nose.
Sinus Causes of
The cause of a sinus infection can be anything interfering with airflow in the sinuses, causing mucus drainage. Common causes include:
- Conditions leading to blockage of the Nasal Tissues: The ostea or sinus openings can get blocked because of the swelling in the tissue lining of the nasal passage. This happens because of allergies, common colds and tissue irritants like cocaine, cigarette smoke and OTC nasal sprays.
- Tumors: Different growth and tumurs can also block the sinuses if they are very close to the sinus openings.
- Disease, Dehydration and Drying Medications: The mucus drainage from sinuses can be interrupted by the thickening of mucus secretions due to dehydration or dehydrating medications.
- Damage to Cilia: Cilia are the small hair-like fibres in the epithelial cells that move back and forth, helping the mucus move out of sinuses. These might get damaged by irritants, preventing mucus drainage.
The different stages of a sinus infection are:
- Stage 1: Acute sinusitis is the first stage of sinus infection, lasting for a very short period. In this stage, an individual starts experiencing cold signs and symptoms that can last for 4 weeks. Seasonal allergies are the main cause of the occurrence of this stage.
- Stage 2: Stage 2 or sub-acute sinusitis can last up to 4 to 12 weeks. The contributing factors for stage 2 sinusitis are bacterial infections and seasonal allergies.
- Stage 3: Chronic sinusitis is stage 3 of a sinus infection that can last for over 3 months. This condition can occur either with or without nasal polyps. People suffering from structural abnormalities or persistent allergies are more prone to stage 3 sinus infection.
- Stage 4: Stage 4, or recurrent sinusitis, is when people develop sinus attacks several times during the year.
Typical Test to Detect Sinus
A doctor will conduct a physical examination to check your nose, throat, and ears for any blockage, draining or swelling. The doctor can also use an endoscope to look inside your nose. In some cases, patients are referred to an ENT specialist. If you require an imaging examination, the doctor will advise a CT or computed tomography scan.
Possible Sinus Treatments
The possible treatments for sinus infection are as follows:
- Releasing blockage in Nasal Passage: This helps with the proper drainage of mucus which flushes out the bacterial infection.
- Steam Inhalation or Nasal Irrigation: Rinse your nose using warm salted water along with a special rinse bottle or Neti pot. Steam inhalation entails breathing hot steam through the nose for a minimum 10 to 15 minutes, at least three to four times a day.
- Antibiotics: Prescribed by a Doctor to help combat bacterial infection.
- Nasal Steroids: Nasal steroids or sprays are useful in decreasing swelling.
- Oral Steroids: Oral steroids are used for treating severe chronic sinusitis. They are very powerful medications with critical side effects.
- Sinus Surgery: Doctors might recommend sinus surgery if a chronic sinus infection is not treated by oral steroids. This surgery is also called Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery.
- Balloon Sinuplasty: This is a less invasive surgery, where a balloon catheter opens up the blocked sinuses.
Any individual can develop a sinus infection. Some conditions that can increase the chances of this are:
- A Deviated Nasal Septum is a condition where the tissue wall between the left and right nostrils displaces unevenly to one side.
- Nasal bone spur or growth of bone in the nose
- Nasal polyps or non-cancerous growths in the nose
- Contact with mould
- History of different allergies
- Weak immune system
- Smoking tobacco
- Cystic fibrosis - a condition causing the build-up of thick mucus in the lungs and the other linings of the mucus membrane
- Travelling by air, exposing oneself to a concentration of germs.
- Dental infection
Possible complications of a sinus infection include:
- Eye infection
- Infection of tissue surrounding the eye.
- Bone infection
- Brain abscess
- Thrombosis or sinus cavity blood clot
There is no sure-shot way of preventing sinus infection. Certain things that can help are:
- Quit smoking and avoid second-hand smoke.
- Keep washing your hands frequently, especially during the flu season.
- Avoid touching your face very often.
- Stay away from allergens, if you are aware of them. Consult a doctor to determine whether you require allergy shots, medicines or other types of immunotherapy.
- A program that can help you quit smoking, if you find it difficult to avoid the habit.
- Drinking fluids in large amounts helps in thinning the nasal secretions.
Around 0.5% of all upper respiratory tract infections become complex due to sinusitis. Based on the setting, acute sinusitis typically ranges from 15 to 40 episodes per 1000 people every year. A sinus infection is more common in adults than in children whose sinuses are not fully developed.
Viral infections can cause sinus inflammation that treats itself in less than 2 weeks without medical intervention. However, if the symptoms worsen after three to five days, or tend to last for more than 10 days, a secondary bacterial infection might be diagnosed.
An individual experiences discomfort and pain until the nasal congestion clears up. Rarely, untreated cases of a sinus infection can result in meningitis.
One of the most common causes of a sinus infection is the infection of the upper respiratory tract. This infection results in the swelling of the sinuses which can further develop into acute sinusitis, causing ostial sinus blockage.
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