The human skull contains a network of connected void cavities called the sinuses.
Sometimes, the cavities encircling these nasal passages swell or become inflamed in a condition referred to as sinusitis or sinus infection. This occurs when the cavities are filled with fluid, which breeds germs that cause the swelling.
Some of the causes of sinusitis include the common cold, septum deviation – nasal cavity shift – growths in the nasal cavity, which are medically known as nasal polyps, and an inflammation of the nose lining. Environmental factors, genetic disorders, and medical conditions are other causes.
Types of Sinusitis
Broadly, sinusitis can either be acute or chronic. Acute sinusitis may last for up to a month and is often characterized by a stuffed-up and or a runny nose, loss of smell, facial aching, and congestion. Fever, fatigue, dental pain, and fatigue often occur.
Chronic sinusitis may last for 12 weeks or more. The symptoms include the obstruction of the nasal cavity, stained postnasal drainage, fever, pus in the cavity, and a feeling of fullness in your face.
Subacute sinusitis is another type with symptoms that last for 4 to 8 weeks. It initially doesn’t get better with treatment. Recurrent sinusitis is highlighted by three or more episodes of the condition in a year.
Who is at Risk?
In 2016, the number and the percentage of adults diagnosed with sinusitis were 26.9 million and 11 percent, respectively. Apart from adults, the condition also affects children with the most common cause being a virus and a prevalence of 5 to 7 out of 10. Smoking can also increase the risk for adults.
The best approaches to the treatment of sinusitis are to try different methods until one works. However, it largely depends on the type and the underlying cause of sinusitis. But because figuring out the actual cause may be a problem, a visit to the doctor is mandatory if you or your child experience symptoms.
The doctor may recommend treatment options such as:
- Decongestants – They are available over the counter and can only be used for a few days.
- Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers – Ibuprofen or acetaminophen may help relieve the ache, but it is recommended that one doesn’t use them for more than 10 days.
- Nasal Corticosteroids – The sprays are applicable for the treatment of inflammation. Examples include mometasone, fluticasone, and budesonide. Oral steroids are suggested for chronic cases.
- Saline Sprays – These are used to rinse the nasal cavity for quick relief.
Antibiotics for Sinusitis
Antibiotics aren’t necessary for the treatment of acute sinusitis or if it is caused by a virus. If, however, the cause is bacterial, then antibiotics might be prescribed. For acute sinusitis, if the doctor feels bacteria is the cause, then antibiotics will be taken for 10 to 14 days. It may be longer for severe cases.
Surgery may be necessary if you have chronic sinusitis. During the operation, the blockages and or the enlargement of the cavities is done.
What Should You Expect from the Doctor?
For the diagnosis of sinusitis, you can expect:
- Allergy Testing – If allergens are suspected to be the cause, a skin test for allergy will be done. The test is quick and safe and it helps determine what spikes your infection.
- Nasal Endoscopy – It involves the insertion of a tiny, delicate tube into your nasal cavity through the nose for inspection of the inside of your passages.
- Nasal and Sinus Cultures – Tissue culture is a final resort done when the condition worsens even after medication.
- Imaging Studies – MRI and CT scans might be carried out to establish the root of complications and abnormalities. These are not applicable for uncomplicated or mild cases.