Sinusitis is a common disease defined as paranasal sinus inflammation. The sinus cavities contain mucus, which the nasal passages need to work properly.
Sinusitis can be acute or chronic. The causes of sinus inflammation include viruses, bacteria, fungi, asthma, and autoimmune reactions.
Although it is unpleasant and painful, sinusitis always goes away without medical treatment. However, if symptoms are serious and ongoing, a person may contact his or her doctor.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2016, US clinicians made a primary diagnosis of chronic sinusitis for 4.1 million individuals. In 2018, 28.9 million people in the United States reported sinusitis in the prior 12-month period. This amounted to 11.6 percent of the population.
What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is the swelling and irritation of the cavities and passages of the nose. This can affect the nose, the cheeks, and the eyes. This disease interferes with drainage and can allow mucus to build up, resulting in trouble breathing. Sinusitis leads to swelling that lasts for at least 12 weeks, despite actively taking drugs to minimize inflammation.
A few causes people to get sinusitis, such as infection, sinus growth, or deviated septum. Overall, the condition mostly affects young and middle-aged people. But there have been cases where infants have suffered.
You may hear the following terms used by your doctor:
- Acute sinusitis usually occurs with cold-like symptoms such as the runny, stuffy nose and nasal pain. This might start suddenly and last 2-4 weeks.
- Subacute sinusitis usually lasts 4 to 12 weeks.
- Chronic sinusitis symptoms last 12 weeks or more.
- Recurrent sinusitis occurs several times a year.
The following may increase the risk of a person having sinusitis:
- Having a prior infection of the respiratory tract, such as a cold
- Nasal polyps, which are small benign growths in the nasal passage that can lead to congestion and inflammation
- Seasonal Allergy
- Sensitive to substances such as dust, pollen, and animal hair
- A weak immune system due to medicine or a health condition
- To have a deviated septum
The septum is the bone and the cartilage that separate the nose into two nostrils. When this is bent to one side, either by injury or growth, the risk of sinusitis may rise.
They differ depending on how long the disease lasts and how serious the symptoms are:
Symptoms include the following:
- Nasal discharge, which can be green or yellow
- A postnasal drip, where the mucus flows down the back of the throat
- Facial pain or pressure
- Blocked or runny nose
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
- A reduced sense of smell and taste
- Tenderness and swelling across the eyes, nose, cheeks, and forehead
Who Gets It?
Lots of people. Around 35 million Americans suffer from sinusitis at least once a year. It’s more likely that you have:
- Inside the nose, swelling like a common cold
- Blocked drainage tubes
- Structural variations that close down the tubes
- Polyps in the nose
- Defects of the immune system or medicines that suppress the immune system
In children, the things that can cause sinusitis are including:
- Diseases of other children in daycare or school
- Bottle drinking while lying on the back
- Smoke in the environment
The main things that make sinusitis more common for adults are infection and smoke.
What’s at the source of your sinusitis depends on the form of infection you have.
1. Acute or Subacute Sinusitis
Acute or subacute sinusitis occurs with inflammation of the nasal passages due to:
- Common cold infections
The resultant blockage of the sinus drainage sites contributes to the development of the infection.
2. Chronic or Recurrent Sinusitis
Continuous inflammation triggers chronic sinusitis rather than infection. It can grow due to:
- Allergic rhinitis
- Fungal allergies
- Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD)
- Exposure to irritants (such as tobacco smoke)
- Repeated virus infections
Other causes of chronic or persistent sinusitis include structural abnormalities in the nasal passages and sinuses, such as:
- Deviated septum (the structure that separates the nasal passage into two sides)
- Swollen adenoids
- Enlarged turbines (structures that warm the air in the nose)
- Nasal polyps
- And other bony defects that can block the sinuses from draining
3. Fungal sinusitis
Fungal sinusitis can grow either as a non-invasive fungal ball. It can even grow as an invasive fungal infection that can destroy nearby structures. A fungal ball may form as dead cells, and debris from inflammation or injury build up in the sinus. It can cause more irritation and inflammation.
Sinusitis is diagnosed depending on the signs and medical examination by the healthcare professional. There is no need for further testing for an uncomplicated acute or subacute sinusitis. If allergies are suspected, you may do an allergy test. Your doctor can prefer CT imaging if you have recurring or chronic sinusitis.
Microscopic analysis and sinus aspiration culture may help diagnose fungal or resistant bacterial infections.
You should prefer an ear-nose-throat (ENT) specialist or otolaryngologist in severe sinusitis cases.
If you have simple sinusitis, your doctor can prescribe that you use a decongestant and saline nasal wash. You should not take an over-the-counter decongestant for more than 3 days. Because it can make you more congested.
When the doctor gives you antibiotics, you will usually take them for 10 to 14 days. Symptoms usually go away with treatment.
Warm, moist air will help if you have sinusitis. You can use a vaporizer, or you can inhale steam from a hot water pan. Be sure that the water isn’t too hot.
There are also other things you can do to deal with sinusitis:
- Warm compresses will relieve pain in the nose and sinuses.
- Saline nasal drops are safe for use at home.
- Over-the-counter decongestant drops or sprays may help. Don’t take anything longer than recommended.
Your doctor can prescribe steroids along with antibiotics in some cases.
You may need to minimize triggers linked to sinusitis.
- In allergies, an antihistamine might help.
- If you have a fungus to blame, you’ll get a prescription for an antifungal drug.
- In any immune defects, your doctor can give you immunoglobulin. It helps to fight your body’s reactions.
Can I Prevent Sinusitis?
There’s no sure-fire solution to prevent sinusitis. But some things might help.
- Don’t smoke, and avoid the smoke of others.
- Wash your hands regularly, especially during the cold and flu seasons. And try not to touch your face.
- Stay away from items that you know you are allergic to.
The Bottom Line
Sinusitis can seem a small problem for you. But it can be very frustrating while you have it. It can sometimes distract you from just about everything but the discomfort it causes. Remember, the relief is normally a few days away. When you’re waiting, doing some tasks will help. Such as:
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
- Drinking lots of water
- Having plenty of rest
- Using a humidifier
- Applying a warm compress to your face will help
And if your symptoms continue for longer than 10 days, be sure to talk to your doctor again.