Sinusitis is a common complaint. According to the CDC, over 37 million Americans will have at least one bout of sinusitis every year.
A Rose by any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet
Unless, that is, you have a sinusitis. Then you may not be able to smell anything. Sinusitis can do more than make you feel bad; it can actually lead to a full-blown, chronic sinus infection that lasts for weeks at a time. In short, sinusitis can make you truly miserable and lead to other problems.
What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is an inflammation (and or infection) of the sinuses. The sinuses are air-filled cavities that are located above your eyebrows and below your eyes.
Sinusitis Causes Symptoms and Treatment Options
What Causes Sinusitis?
The most common cause of sinusitis is a viral infection. Viruses, allergens or other environmental irritants cause an irritation to the delicate mucosal lining of the sinuses. The body then responds by rushing fluid to the affected area (causing swelling).
Moreover, when irritated, the natural response of the sinuses is to produce larger quantities of mucus (in order to flush out the irritant or viral agent). However, if the sinuses become overwhelmed and cannot drain, the pressure continues to build, causing pain.
Furthermore, because the area is moist and warm, bacteria may be able to increase in number, leading to a sinus infection that can become chronic or extend for four or more weeks.
Other underlying causes may also make patients more susceptible to sinusitis. These include fungal infections, allergies, nasal polyps, and the presence of a deviated septum (which can block nasal passages and or slow the normal drainage).
What are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Swelling of the nasal passageways
- Sinus pain and pressure
- Excessive mucus or mucus that appears cloudy, yellow or greenish
- A feeling of increased pressure or pain when leaning forward
- Dental pain
What Treatments are Available?
Your doctor can diagnose and treat sinusitis. He or she will determine the underlying cause and then prescribe a course of treatment. This may include medications to relieve the congestion, decrease mucus production, or antibiotics to fight the infection.
He or she may also prescribe other medications to reduce the reaction to allergens or corticosteroids to reduce the swelling. In some cases, such as when polyps are present, he or she may recommend a surgical procedure in order to treat and or prevent future infections.
If you are Experiencing the Pain of Sinusitis
You may be able to gain some temporary relief of your symptoms by using over-the-counter medications and nasal sprays. If, however, the symptoms worsen, you begin to run a fever, or you begin to notice a change in the color of the mucus (yellow or green), or the symptoms simply interfere with your daily life, contact your doctor for an appointment.
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