Sinusitis causes an inflammation of any of the paranasal sinuses. A chronic infection of the sinuses can last up to 8 weeks or more, which can become really troublesome for any individual. You can find out more about this condition, its causes, symptoms, as well as some simple remedies that can provide relief in chronic sinusitis, in this HealthHearty article.
A chronic infection of the sinuses usually lasts for more than 8 weeks. There are four groups of paranasal sinuses in the human body, which are known as maxillary sinuses, frontal sinuses, ethmoid sinuses, and sphenoid sinuses. These sinuses are nothing but small, air-filled cavities that can be found inside the human skull.
Sinusitis or a sinus infection can cause an inflammation of any of these paranasal sinuses. Depending on the duration, sinus infections are divided into two types – acute sinusitis and chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis, as mentioned already can persist for more than 8 weeks, while acute sinusitis develops quickly, but lasts for a much shorter duration (not more than 4 weeks).
What Causes a Sinus Infection?
It can be caused by viral infections like cold and flu. Such infections can block the sinuses and prevent the drainage of mucus from them. This in turn, can create a moist environment in the sinuses, which is ideal for the growth of infectious agents. Usually, an infection of the sinuses is caused by viruses and bacteria. Rarely, it can be caused by fungus as well.
Apart from these, dental infections can sometimes spread to the sinuses. Allergies like hay fever can also block the sinuses and lead to sinusitis. It has been observed that certain factors can increase the risk of chronic sinus infections in children and adults. Some such important risk factors are, nasal tumors or polyps, deviated nasal septum, nasal bone spur, gastroesophageal reflux disease, smoking, asthma, immune system disorders, tooth infections, and cystic fibrosis.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common signs and symptoms of a sinus infection or sinusitis are nasal congestion, and pain and pressure over the infected sinus or sinuses. This means that the pain and tenderness can be felt in various parts of the face and the forehead, depending on the particular sinus that is infected. But more commonly, the pain or pressure can be felt across the forehead, around the eyes, on the bridge of the nose, on the cheeks, and also at the temples and the back and top of the head. Other symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Nasal obstruction or congestion, which can make it difficult to breathe through the nose
- Thick nasal discharge of yellow or greenish color
- Sinus headaches
- Runny nose
- Post nasal drip
- Cough that worsens at night
- Pain and tenderness around the eyes, nose, forehead, and cheek
- Sore throat
- Fatigue and low-grade fever
- Ear pain
- Aching teeth
- Reduced sense of smell
- Halitosis or bad breath
Treatment of Sinusitis
A chronic infection of the sinuses is usually treated with nasal sprays and decongestants. More commonly, saline nasal sprays and oral decongestants are used to relieve the symptoms associated with sinusitis. To reduce the inflammation of the sinuses, corticosteroids can be recommended by the physician. Both nasal and oral corticosteroids are employed for treating this problem. Sometimes, corticosteroid injections are also used.
But if the infection is caused by bacteria, and is recurrent in nature, then antibiotics are used for its treatment. If allergies are the contributory factors, then allergy shots are considered for treating this condition. If all these treatment options fail to cure the infection, then physicians may opt for endoscopic sinus surgery.
If the infection is not so severe, one can also use certain simple home remedies, along with medications. An increase in fluid intake, steam inhalation, nasal or sinus irrigation with saline water, and the application of warm compress over the nose, cheeks, and the eyes, are some such home remedies that can provide relief in sinusitis. Herbal tea and spicy food can also promote the drainage of the sinuses and the nasal passage. However, never forget to seek medical attention for chronic infections. If left untreated, severe chronic sinusitis can trigger asthma attacks, and cause meningitis and vision problems.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.