An introduction to sinusitis
Sinusitis is the health condition which arises because your sinuses have become inflamed.
There are four pairs of sinuses in your head. These are located either side of your nose, behind your eyes, behind your cheekbones and in your forehead. These sinuses are small air-filled cavities and function to help you project your voice.
Sinusitis occurs when these sinuses become infected or blocked, usually because the mucous lining becomes inflamed.
Acute or chronic sinusitis?
Acute sinusitis lasts for up to three weeks, and tends to clear up by itself or with the help of home or herbal remedies. It is normally the aftermath of a cold or flu infection, or perhaps occurs after too much flying.
Chronic sinusitis lasts longer than three weeks and may be the result of a more serious bacterial infection, or may even be caused by the anatomical structure of your nasal passages. This type of sinusitis may require conventional medicines or surgery to improve the symptoms.
What are the causes?
There are many factors which may lead to sinusitis, and while all you may be interested in is finding relief from your symptoms, understanding the cause of your condition often helps you to find the most effective treatment. These include:
And the symptoms?
Symptoms of sinusitis usually begin with a blocked or runny nose and quickly develop into pain in the areas of the face and head where the sinuses are located. The pain is described as a deep throbbing pain which is worsened when the head is moved, such as to lie down, or when experiencing a sudden change of temperature, when going outside, for example. Further symptoms, such as loss of smell and difficulty breathing may also develop.
It is unusual for complications of sinusitis to develop. However, in children, infection may spread from the sinuses into the surrounding tissues. In adults, chronic sinusitis may lead to nasal polyps. These are small growths of abnormal tissue which can form in the nasal passages and obstruct breathing. In some cases, these remain small and require no treatment, in other cases, medical intervention is necessary.
Sinus headaches are characterised by pain or pressure in the head and face. The skin and tissue covering the affected sinus can be tender to touch. They always occur alongside sinusitis or a sinus infection, and therefore if you do not experience feelings of a blocked or runny nose along with the headache, the chances are high it may be a different type of headache.
Sinus headaches are often mistaken for migraines or tension headaches. However, migraines are often associated with aura or nausea, while tension headaches are usually felt as a band of tension around the forehead.
Treatment for sinusitis
In the first instance, many people try home or herbal remedies for sinusitis, as often an effective remedy can be found which is not intrusive to the body.
Home remedies usually involve managing your symptoms through diet, by keeping hydrated and avoiding certain foods which stimulate mucus production, such as dairy products, chocolate, refined sugars, gluten or alcohol. Herbal decongestants allow easier breathing and an increased drainage of mucus from your sinuses. Products containing peppermint, eucalyptus and chamomile may be effective, such as A.Vogel’s Sinuforce Nasal Spray.
If these treatments have not eased your symptoms, it may be necessary to try conventional medicines. A doctor is likely to recommend antibiotics if there is a bacterial infection present in the sinuses, or a steroid nasal spray to reduce inflammation. In some cases, such as after facial trauma, surgery may be required.