Know the Basics
Healthy sinuses are usually filled with air, but there are conditions wherein the sinuses become blocked or filled with fluid. Sinusitis is one of these conditions and in this article, we’ll look into its definition, types, causes, symptoms, risk factors, prevention, and sinusitis treatment.
What Is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis, as the name suggests, is a condition wherein inflammation happens in the sinuses. Sinusitis is the condition wherein the tissue lining the sinuses are inflamed or swollen.
Because of this inflammation, the sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid since the lining is swollen. This, then, makes it more likely for germs to cause infections and further complications.
Types of Sinusitis
There are many different types of sinusitis. And these are told apart by the duration wherein the symptoms are present. From the shortest duration to the longest, the types of sinusitis are acute sinusitis, subacute sinusitis, and chronic sinusitis.
Acute sinusitis comes with these symptoms for as short as seven to 10 days and as long as a month. Meanwhile subacute sinusitis could last around a month to even three months. Sinusitis that lasts three months or longer falls under chronic sinusitis. Getting sinusitis several times a year would fall under recurrent sinusitis.
Recurrent sinusitis could be any of the former three as long as it occurs more than 4 times in a year. This means that someone could have recurrent acute, subacute, or chronic sinusitis.
What Are the Causes of Sinusitis?
Although sinusitis could be caused by almost anything, there are some common causes of sinusitis. These include a deviated septum, allergic rhinitis, nasal polyps, and even the common cold as well as infections from viruses and bacteria.
A common cold, as the name suggests, is your annual stuffy nose caused by a virus. But this same cold, taken to the extreme and irritated even further, could cause sinusitis. Allergic rhinitis or an allergic reaction that manifests like a common cold due to certain allergens. This makes the lining of the sinuses very irritable and could cause sinusitis.
Nasal polyps are small growths on the nasal lining that cause them to be more irritable and this irritation could devolve into sinusitis. A shift in the nasal cavity, called deviated septums, could also cause sinusitis.
What Are the Symptoms?
Symptoms are straightforward and usually vary depending on the type sinusitis you have. In this part of the article, we’ll be discussing the symptoms of acute and chronic sinusitis. Subacute sinusitis would take symptoms from both of these, while recurrent sinusitis would be the recurrence of these symptoms several times a year.
Acute sinusitis brings a stuffed and runny nose and could come with a loss of smell because of the congestion. This could come with pain in the face as well or migraines that are concentrated in between the eyebrows and lower. Pain could also be present in the teeth or jaw area. Nasal discharge is also normal. The color of the discharge ranges from green to yellow while the viscosity is more on the thick side. Having a fever is also common, as is bad breath, known as halitosis. Fatigue could also be a symptom of sinusitis.
Chronic sinusitis could last 12 weeks or even longer. This could come with a feeling of congestion or fullness because of excessive obstruction or blockage in the nasal cavity. Similar to acute sinusitis, you could experience a runny nose and suffer a fever . Pus could also develop in the nasal cavity and this may cause some discoloration in the nasal discharge, causing its colors to deviate from the green to yellow tints in acute sinusitis.
Who Is at Risk?
Although everyone is at risk for sinusitis, some factors play into how high or low these risk levels are.
Sinusitis is more commonly contracted by people who already have structural differences in their nasal cavities. These include developing polyps, having narrow drainage ducts or even deficiencies in their immune system. Structurally narrow drainage ducts are much easier to clog than normal sized ones; hence they are easier to irritate and swell up. Deficiencies in the immune system could make someone more likely to catch a cold and cause a blockage in the drainage ducts.
That said, having a cold and a blocked nasal cavity would make a nasal passage prone to irritation, which makes it more likely to swell up.
Children are much more likely to develop sinusitis from their allergies or exposure to foreign substances. Illnesses they catch from other kids could also cause sinusitis. Bottle drinking on their back and exposure to secondhand smoke should also be avoided.
For adults, prior infections, whether viral or bacterial, smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke could put you at risk.
How Do You Prevent Sinusitis?
Since it is quite common and easy to catch, there’s no surefire way to prevent sinusitis besides trying to lower the risk levels. This means that you should avoid smoking and allergens, and practice good hygiene.
To begin with, avoid smoking and pollution, in general. This could keep you from irritating your nasal cavity and lower your risk level. Washing your hands, especially when it’s flu season, will work wonders in preventing sinusitis. Staying away from known allergies and unpleasant scents or sensitizing smells will also help to curb sinusitis.
Sinusitis treatment will vary depending on what caused the condition. For most simple sinus infections, decongestants and saline nasal washes are effective. It’s important to know, though, that you shouldn’t use over the counter decongestants for more than three days. Topical decongestants (i.e. Oxymetazoline nasal spray) should not be used for more than three days. They can cause rebound congestion (also called rhinitis medicamentosa).
If bacteria has caused the irritation, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics or steroids. At times, your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories to help the irritation.
Chronic sinusitis could be made easier to manage with a vaporizer because warm and moist air can help soothe it.
It is important to know sinusitis treatment because of how common it is. But in general, sinusitis is easy to manage. As long as you keep good hygiene and stay away from irritants, it should be easy to maintain your health.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.