Sinusitis, better known as a sinus infection, is one of the most common afflictions of allergies. It occurs when the tissue lining of the sinuses swells or becomes inflamed as a result of an infection caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungus. The cause of sinusitis may be a bacterial infection, a virus or a deviated septum. The sinuses are the hollow air spaces in the bones surrounding the nose.
A sinus infection typically happens in adults following a cold that does not get better after five to seven days.
- Cough (typically at night)
- Sore throat and postnasal drip
- Nasal stuffiness and discharge
- Fatigue and feeling ill
- Bad breath and loss of smell
- Pressure-like pain behind the eyes, toothache, or sensitivity in the face
Acute sinusitis is the short-term inflammation of the tissues that line and surround the sinuses. The sinusitis symptoms last less than four weeks. Acute sinusitis often begins as a common cold with symptoms that fade within a week to 10 days. Some people develop a bacterial infection.
Chronic sinusitis (rhinosinusitis) is a condition in which the sinuses become inflamed for more than 12 weeks, despite treatment with medications. This condition may be caused by an infection, a deviated nasal septum, or growths in the sinuses (nasal polyps). Chronic sinusitis usually affects young and middle-aged adults. Children are rarely diagnosed with chronic sinusitis.
With chronic sinusitis, breathing through your nose may be difficult. You may have facial tenderness or pain, and the area around your face may feel swollen. Chronic sinusitis can appear to be similar to acute sinusitis, but it lasts for a longer period of time, causes fatigue, and is associated with a cold. Complications from sinusitis include: meningitis, other infections, loss of sense of smell, and vision problems.
Sinusitis Treatment and Management
An acute sinusitis infection may clear up without treatment even if it’s bacterial. If your bacterial acute sinusitis worsens, treatment with an antibiotic can reduce the duration of acute sinusitis. Other treatment options include decongestants, nasal spray, over-the-counter medications, and sinus saline rinses.
In extreme cases where treatment or medication for chronic sinusitis is ineffective, sinus surgery may be an option. Endoscopic sinus surgery requires the doctor to use a thin, flexible tube with an attached light to explore the sinus passages. The doctor may use various instruments to remove tissue or trim away a polyp that is blocking a nasal blockage.
Several home remedies can help alleviate acute sinusitis symptoms. Getting a good night’s rest, drinking fluids, moistening and rinsing your sinus cavities, applying a warm compress to your face, and sleeping with your head elevated are helpful tips for alleviating allergy symptoms.
Chronic sinusitis treatments include: saline nasal irrigation with sprays or solutions, nasal corticosteroids (Flonase, Nasacort 24), and oral or injected corticosteroids.