Lungs & Breathing

Updated On: September 13, 2021

Sinusitis (Sinus Infection) - Types, Treatment & More

Written By: Dr. Ramamurthy

Dr. Ramamurthy Lakshminarayanan is an ENT specialist at Medcare. He completed the DNB Otorhinolaryngology degree from New Delhi, India, the Diploma in Otorhinolaryngology from The TN Dr. MGR Medical University, India & MBBS from Bharathiyar University, India.

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What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis occurs when the tissue lining the sinus cavities becomes inflamed. These cavities are called the paranasal sinuses – which are the spaces in the face connecting with the nasal cavity. We’re all familiar with mucus – it is the gooey secretion made by the sinuses which trap particles of dirt & germs. Sinusitis takes place after mucus builds up followed by irritation & inflammation. People can suffer from acute or chronic forms of sinusitis. While uncomfortable & painful, sinusitis often heals without medical intervention. However, if symptoms are severe & persistent, consult your doctor.

When To See A Doctor For Sinusitis

If symptoms go on for more than ten days – or if you are concerned prior to that – you should contact a doctor. If you have had facial pain or congestion in the sinuses that are prolonged & out of the ordinary, then it is time to make an appointment.

Tell your doctor about any unusual discharge from the nasal cavity. You may be experiencing an irritated throat or cough caused by discharge going down the back of your throat. Pressure from sinusitis can cause headaches & pain in the sinuses.

The Medcare team will be able to consider your symptoms & discuss treatment options.

Consult an ENT Specialist if these signs continue:

Make sure to look out for signs that continue, such as:

  • Pain around the face.
  • Headaches caused by congestion.
  • Discharge from the nasal cavity.
  • Sinus pain.
  • Throat irritation.

If you are suffering from any kind of nasal pain, speak to us today. Medcare’s healthcare professionals can swiftly diagnose & advise the best route to a full recovery.

Types of Sinusitis

Two types of sinusitis have been identified. Which one you have will determine over how long a period you suffer.

  • Acute Sinusitis: does not last long, but it can be seen with quite intense symptoms. It develops in most people after a cold & is characterised by a green/yellow nasal discharge accompanied by pain around the cheeks, forehead & eyes.
  • Chronic Sinusitis: takes place when symptoms continue for more than 12 weeks. Or if sufferers endure three or more recurrences in a year.

Signs & Symptoms Of Sinusitis

The severity of symptoms & length of the condition can vary. All of the symptoms offer clear clues as to the presence of sinusitis but allow your doctor to diagnose the condition rather than relying on the visual signs offered below.

Symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • Green or yellow nasal discharge.
  • Postnasal drip - where mucus runs down the back of the throat.
  • Facial pain or pressure, sore throat & cough.
  • Blocked or runny nose.
  • Bad breath & toothache.
  • Fever & of smell and taste.
  • Tenderness & swelling around eyes, nose, cheeks & forehead.

Diagnosis Of Sinusitis

  • A doctor may make a diagnosis by examining you.
  • Examining the nasal cavity with a light-emitting device known as an otoscope is common.
  • There may be an endoscopic examination to see inside the nasal passages.
  • Structural problems can be identified with an MRI or CT scan if deemed necessary.
  • Allergy testing may also be carried out to identify possible triggers for sinusitis.
  • If symptoms persist, you may need to see an ear, nose, & throat specialist for a more in-depth examination.

Causes of Sinusitis

Sinusitis comes from various factors but always results from fluid becoming trapped in the sinuses, allowing germs to grow.

Some Common Causes of Sinusitis include:

  • Viral infection
  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Air pollutants - such as chemicals and other irritants
  • Mould

Risk Factors of Sinusitis

You are more likely to suffer from sinusitis if you have any of the risk factors listed below. While there are many unavoidable risk factors, it’s worth noting these major risk factors to help ascertain if you might have sinusitis:

  • Respiratory tract infections, such as a cold
  • Nasal polyps
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Sensitivity to dust, pollen, and animal hair, for example
  • Weakened immune system
  • Suffering with a deviated septum

Complications of Sinusitis

For most people, sinusitis will not present complications. But acute bacterial sinusitis can result in complications that in some cases are life-threatening. Sinus walls are thin, and share blood vessels and lymph drainage pathways with the eyes and parts of the central nervous system.

Complications of sinus infection include:

  • Eye infections
  • Sinus cavity blood clots (thrombosis)
  • Meningitis
  • Brain abscess
  • Bone infection

Note that all of these are rare.vIf you feel you are developing any symptoms that suggest a potential complication of sinusitis, seek immediate medical attention.

Treatment of Sinusitis

Treatment is determined by how long sinusitis lasts. Most sinusitis is viral and benefits from symptomatic relief, as opposed to treatment with antibiotics. Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial sinus infections – which account for no more than one in 50 cases of sinusitis.

Treatment of Acute and subacute Sinusitis

A doctor may prescribe treatment when symptoms carry on or if the patient has severe symptoms. Antibiotics are the best treatment in cases of bacterial infection. You should contact your doctor again if symptoms persist after a course of antibiotics has finished.

Treatment of Chronic Sinusitis

Antibiotics are not usually appropriate for chronic sinusitis as it is most often not the result of bacterial infection. Relief can come if people identify triggers such as allergens, pollen or dust mites. A doctor may decide that a prescription of corticosteroid sprays or tablets is required.

Surgery for Sinusitis

Surgery is only considered by a doctor if other treatments fail – and even then, it may not end sinusitis for the patient. Post-surgery a sufferer may still be subject to outbreaks of sinusitis and need to carry on with further treatments. In children, surgery is considered a last resort for sinusitis.

Home Remedies for Sinusitis

Around 70 per cent of acute sinusitis cases are resolved without prescription drugs. Symptoms can be relieved in a number of ways – including differing home remedies and over-the-counter medications:

  • Nasal irrigation: a saltwater solution can help clear the nasal passages
  • Rest: taking time to relax can alleviate symptoms in some cases
  • Warm compresses: swelling and associated pain and discomfort can be alleviated with the gentle application of a compress.
  • Steam inhalation: this can relieve congestion when you inhale while leaning over a bowl filled with hot water. Adding menthol drops or crystals can help.
  • Decongestant tablets and sprays: sometimes help the sinuses to drain
  • OTC nasal corticosteroids: a nasal spray can cut down inflammation.

Prevention Of Sinusitis

Like many conditions, there are a number of tips & health recommendations that can help avoid & prevent sinusitis.

  • Practice good & hygiene.
  • Avoid those with colds & other respiratory infections.
  • Avoid smoking - & second-hand smoke.
  • Ensure your vaccinations are up to date.
  • Invest in a home humidifier (to keep the air moist & clean).
  • Maintain air conditioning units – at home & in the office - to prevent mould & dust from collecting.
  • Understand & manage any possible allergens you may have.

Our team is ready to advise you on your symptoms & the treatments available. Call today to book an appointment.

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