Sinusitis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the nasal sinuses-the hollow cavities found within the cheek bones and near the eyes. The inflammation is usually triggered by inadequate draining due to allergies, infections or structural problems of the nose such as narrow drainage passages or a deviated septum. Sinuses help warm, moisten and filter the air in the nasal cavity and also add resonance to certain sounds. . If you recognize a symptom in yourself or your child, see an specialist for a proper examination and diagnosis.
Normally, mucus collecting in the sinuses drains into the nasal passages. When you have a cold or allergy attack, your sinuses become inflamed and are unable to drain. This can lead to congestion and infection. Diagnosis of acute sinusitis usually is based on a physical examination and a discussion of your symptoms. Your doctor also may use x-rays of your sinuses or obtain a sample of your nasal discharge to test for bacteria.The major signs indicating sinusitis are:
1.Your cold has lasted more than seven days and is accompanied by cough, fever, headache, toothache, facial pain, green or gray nasal drainage, or post-nasal drip.
2. You have lost your sense of smell and taste and have bad breath accompanied by chronic congestion. In children, increased irritability and vomiting occurs with gagging on mucus and/or a prolonged cough.
Although colds are the most common cause of acute sinusitis, it is more likely that people with allergies will develop sinusitis. Allergies can trigger inflammation of the sinuses and nasal mucous linings. This inflammation prevents the sinus cavities from clearing out bacteria, and increases your chances of developing secondary bacterial sinusitis. If you test positive for allergies, your physician can prescribe appropriate medications to control your symptoms, thereby reducing the risk of developing an infection. People with sinus problems and allergies should avoid environmental irritants such as tobacco smoke and strong chemical odors, which may increase symptoms.
Structural problems in the noseâ€”such as narrow drainage passages, tumors or polyps, or a deviated nasal septum (the bone and cartilage between the left and right sides of the nose)â€”may be another cause of sinusitis. Surgery is sometimes needed to correct these problems. Many patients with recurring or chronic sinusitis have more than one factor that predisposes them to infection. So, addressing only one factor may not be sufficient.
Even if symptoms seem to be localized to the sinuses, the sinuses are not always infected. To make a correct diagnosis, a physician will take a detailed history and perform a physical examination. The physician may also order tests, if indicated. These tests can include allergy testing, sinus X-ray, CT scans (which make precise images of the sinus cavities), or a sampling of the nasal secretions or lining.
The physician also may perform an endoscopic examination. This involves inserting a narrow, flexible fiber-optic scope into the nasal cavity through the nostrils, which allows the physician to view the area where the sinuses and middle ear drain into the nose in an easy, painless, â€œpatient friendlyâ€ manner.
Sinus infections generally require a combination of therapies. In addition to prescribing an antibiotic when the sinusitis is caused by bacterial infection, your physician may prescribe a medication to reduce blockage or control allergies. This will help keep the sinus passages open. This medicine may be a decongestant, a mucus-thinning medicine or a cortisone nasal spray. Antihistamines, cromolyn and topical steroid nasal sprays help control allergic inflammation.
For people with allergies, long-term treatment to control and reduce allergic symptoms can also be effective in preventing the development of sinusitis. This treatment may include immunotherapy (also called â€œallergy shotsâ€), anti-inflammatory medications, decongestants, and environmental control measures. Preventative use of low dose antibiotics and sinus drainage medications during times when symptoms will likely be worse, such as winter, also may prevent sinusitis.
Several non-drug treatments can also be VERY helpful. These include breathing in hot, moist air, applying hot packs and washing the nasal cavities with salt water. In cases of obstructed sinus passages that may require surgery, your allergist/immunologist may refer you to an otorhinolaryngologist, or an ear-nose-throat physician (ENT).
Sinusitis vs. rhinitis
Although many symptoms are similar, sinusitis differs from allergic rhinitis, known as â€œhay fever,â€ or non-allergic (vasomotor) rhinitis. Rhinitis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the noseâ€”not the sinuses. Allergic rhinitis is caused by allergies and is often characterized by a runny nose, sneezing and congestion, and itchy eyes, nose, throat and inner ears. Non-allergic rhinitis is characterized by a swollen, inflamed nasal lining overflowing clear nasal drainage and a stuffy nose. It may be triggered by irritants such as smoke, changes in barometric pressure or temperature, or overuse of over-the-counter decongestant nasal sprays. Poorly controlled chronic or recurring rhinitis can lead to sinusitis.
As you can see, symptoms of sinusitis can vary depending on the severity of the inflammation and the sinuses involvedâ€”all of the symptoms listed above may be present, or only a few. It’s best to consult your physician promptly if any of the described symptoms of sinusitis develop.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.
( Help taken from:http://www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/sinusitis.stm )