The air filled spaces present around the nasal cavity and in the front, in between and behind your eyes are called as sinuses. These spaces can get infected by microorganisms or develop inflammation due to an allergy. This causes them to get blocked with fluid (mucus) and germs, leading to an infection.
Types of sinus infection
There are different types of sinus infections based on their occurrence.
The sudden appearance of symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, facial pain that lasts for about 4 weeks or less is called as acute sinusitis.
The infection that lasts for at least 4 to 8 weeks is termed as subacute sinusitis.
It’s a long term infection and the symptoms linger for more than 8 weeks.
This is a type of chronic infection that can recur several times in a year.
Characteristic symptoms of sinus infection
The symptoms of a sinus infection cause considerable discomfort and pain to the sufferer. Medically, sinusitis occurs when the cavities or air-filled spaces around the nose get swollen and inflamed.
Signs and symptoms of sinus infection include:
Sinus headache, especially in the forehead and behind the ears
- Facial pain
- Swelling and redness in the face
- Cough, congestion in chest and nose
- Yellowish green nasal discharge
- Foul smelling breath
- Loss of smell and taste
- Fever (optional)
- Pain in gum and toothache (optional)
- Tiredness due to general illness
Causes of sinus infection
The sinus lining which traps microorganisms get inflamed when infected. Acute infection is usually caused by bacteria (S. pneumonia), viruses and allergens that you are sensitive to.
The Staph group of bacteria and fungi are mainly responsible for chronic sinus infection.
Furthermore, the risk factors for sinus infection include
- Weak immune system
- Nasal infection
- Structural abnormalities in the nasal duct
- Taking immunosuppressant drugs
Diagnosis of sinus infection
You should visit an ENT (ear nose throat) specialist for check up.
Your doctor would analyze the symptoms and check with your medical history.
Your sinuses will be felt manually for pain and pressure and then he/she would perform a nasal endoscopy. This technique involves insertion of an illuminated device known as sino nasal endoscope or nasopharyngoscope through your nose to check your nasal passages and sinuses for the underlying complication.
If it’s a recurrent incidence or a severe case of infection, then a CT scan or MRI of the sinus is usually recommended. This helps to procure a clear picture of your sinus.
Mucus culture, blood tests and allergy test are some additional tests that you might need to undergo.
Treatment of sinus infection
The treatment for sinus infection is directed towards opening up your blocked sinuses and for this, your doctor will prescribe you medicines to ward off the infection and manage the symptoms. Treatment options are:
- A course of antibiotics, anti-fungal drugs and antihistamines to combat bacterial attack, fungal infection and allergies, respectively.
- Nasal or oral decongestants and steroid medicines for managing blockage in the nose
- OTC pain killer, expectorants and anti fever medicines reduce general pain, headache, cough and illness.
- Use of Neti-pot to drain the mucus and open up the nasal passages.
In special cases, your doctor might prescribe you immunoglobulin drugs to boost your immunity. Surgery is not usually opted for, unless there’s severe structural deformity or abnormality like tumor is present.
Effective home remedies for sinus infection
- Increase your intake of water and fluids in the form of hot soups and fresh fruit juices to enhance drainage of the sinuses
- Cut down drinking caffeine; instead opt for herbal green tea or ginger tea to open clogged channels of your nose.
- Inhale steam from boiling hot water. Add a few peppermint leaves or herbal balm to the boiling water for quick relief
- Try irrigating your nose with saline solution with the help of a syringe. This will clear up microorganisms faster.
This was some general information regarding sinus infection. If you suffer from pain, nasal congestion, yellow-greenish discharge frequently, then visit a doctor for further diagnosis.
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Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: February 09, 2015