Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)

Sinus Infection Overview

The Sinuses  are air-filled spaces found in the bones of the head and face. Sinuses start developing before you are born and some of them keep growing until you’re about 20. There are four pairs of sinuses, or eight in all. They are located on either side of the nose in your cheeks, behind and between the eyes, in the forehead, and at the back of the nasal cavity. Sinusitis is an inflammation, or swelling, of the tissue lining the sinuses. Normally, sinuses are filled with air, but when sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, germs (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) can grow and cause an infection. Conditions that can cause sinus blockage include the common cold, allergic rhinitis (swelling of the lining of the nose), nasal polyps (small growths in the lining of the nose), or a deviated septum (a shift in the nasal cavity).


Types of Sinusitis or Sinus Infection

There are different types of sinusitis, including:-

  •  Acute sinusitis: A sudden onset of cold-like symptoms such as runny, stuffy nose and facial pain that does not go away after 7-10 days. Acute sinusitis typically lasts 4 weeks or less.
  • Subacute sinusitis: An inflammation lasting 4 to 8 weeks.
  • Chronic sinusitis: A condition characterized by sinus inflammation symptoms lasting 8 weeks or longer.
  • Recurrent sinusitis: Several attacks within a year.

Causes of Sinusitis or Sinus Infection

Sinus infection may be caused by anything that interferes with airflow into the sinuses and the drainage of mucus out of the sinuses. The sinus openings (ostea) may be blocked by swelling of the tissue lining and adjacent nasal passage tissue, for example with common colds, allergies, and tissue irritants such as OTC nasal sprays, cocaine, and cigarette smoke. Sinuses can also become blocked by tumors or growths that are near the sinus openings. When the tiny openings that drain the sinuses get blocked, mucus becomes trapped in the sinuses. Like water in a stagnant pond, it makes a good home for bacteria, viruses, or fungi to grow.

Symptoms of Sinusitis or Sinus Infection

Illu nose nasal cavities
Illu nose nasal cavities (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Common Sinus Infection Symptoms are Sinus Headache, facial tenderness, pressure or pain, and fever. However, as few as 25% of patients may have fever associated with acute sinus infection. Other common symptoms include:

  • Sinus Headache
  • Sinus Pain
  • Cloudy, discolored nasal drainage,
  • A feeling of nasal stuffiness
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Persistent nasal discharge that often is yellow or green (this alone doesn’t always mean you have a sinus infection)
  • Daytime cough (your cough may be worse at night)
  • Puffy eyes, especially in the morning
  • Bad breath

Treatment of Sinusitis or Sinus Infection

For sinusitis caused by virus infection, no antibiotic treatment is required. Frequently recommended treatments include Sinus Pain and fever medications (such as acetaminophen [Tylenol]), decongestants and mucolytics. Bacterial infection of the sinuses is suspected when facial pain, nasal discharge resembling pus, and symptoms persist for longer than a week and are not responding to OTC nasal medications. Acute sinus infection from bacteria is usually treated with antibiotic therapy aimed at treating the most common bacteria known to cause sinus infection, since it is unusual to be able to get a reliable culture without aspirating the sinuses.

Sinus Pressure

Sinus Pressure is described as feeling like one’s head is going to detonate. Sinus Pressure is extremely painful and can cause damage to the ear itself if not properly relieved. VapoRub’s contains menthol, eucalyptus and other ingredients in a petrolatum base. Fumes from VapoRub temporarily open the airways, allowing relief from chest and Sinus Pressure and congestion. Warming the ointment in warm water may aid this effect and is a common home remedy for Sinus Pressure and Congestion; however, you must be careful. Use warm water only, not hot or boiling water.

Sinus Cold

After a cold, you are at greater risk of developing a sinus infection. For the duration of a cold, the sinuses and the blood vessels in the nasal passages become inflamed, the nose frequently feels “plugged up.” Often, pressure in the head and sinuses accompanies a sinus cold. If not treated properly, the infection may worsen and spread to other parts of the head, such as the ears and throat. You can expel mucus in the sinuses using a solution of water and baking soda or using Vapo-Rubs.
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