Symptoms of Sinusitis and How to Get Relief

Sinusitis (or rhinosinusitis) is the inflammation of the sinuses and the nasal passages caused by a viral, bacterial or fungal infection. The sinuses are hollow, air-filled cavities within a bone inside the skull and are lined with mucus membranes. They produce mucus that is drained through the nose. The sinuses filter and control the temperature and water content of the air. 

The four pairs of sinuses include:

  1. Frontal sinuses (behind the forehead)
  2. Maxillary sinuses (behind the cheekbones)
  3. Ethmoid sinuses (behind the nose)
  4. Sphenoid sinuses (behind the eyes)

Sinuses connect to the nasal passages. An inflammation of the four pairs of sinuses is what causes sinusitis. The inflammation could bring an obstruction or congestion, and as a result, the sinuses become blocked. Usually the mucus can easily be drained out with air freely flowing through the sinuses. However, as the sinuses become blocked, the mucus builds up inside the paranasal sinus, leading to bacteria and germs accumulating inside and aggravate the infection and inflammation.

Types of Sinusitis

Sinusitis is broadly classified as acute or chronic, depending on the duration of the sinusitis symptoms.

Acute Viral Sinusitis

Typically lasts up to four weeks and is caused by a viral infection. This is a common ailment that occurs not more than three times in a year. This type of a sinus infection usually occurs after a subsequent upper respiratory infection.

Chronic Sinusitis

Usually lasts for four or more weeks and the symptoms last longer than three months on end. Chronic sinusitis occurs more frequently as compared to the acute sinusitis case. This form of the condition requires that one should visit a doctor for a check-up as it may also be caused by any other disease that has chronic sinusitis as its symptom.

There are a host of reasons for chronic sinusitis to occur, such as the person developing nasal polyps (benign tumor or outgrowth), an allergic reaction, tumors, or respiratory tract infections, be it fungal, bacterial or viral in nature. 

Symptoms of Sinusitis

The symptoms for the two types of sinus infections include:

Acute Viral Sinusitis Symptoms

Chronic Sinusitis Symptoms

When to See a Doctor

Usually sinusitis can be cured quickly with certain remedies, but one must seek a doctor if:

Treatments of Sinusitis

Treatments for sinusitis depend on the severity of the condition. For mild cases home remedies can help to ease the symptoms; for serious cases, medications or surgery may be required.

Home Remedies

The following treatments for sinusitis can be very effective in easing the nasal congestion and inflammation and eventually curing sinusitis.

Medicines

In some cases these home remedies may not work, as a result, the symptoms may linger for a couple of days. In this situation, one must turn to other treatments and drugs. The following would usually be recommended by a doctor.

Nasal sprays

They can help in easing the blocked nasal passages. Must be sprayed inside the nose several times a day in order to take effect.

Decongestants

Help in relieving stuffiness and blocked noses. These can be bought over-the-counter (OTC) or prescribed by a doctor in the form of syrups, tablets or nasal sprays. Some common decongestants include Actified, Sudafed, and Vicks.

Nasal corticosteroids

These are nasal sprays that help by relieving inflammation. Some common nasal corticosteroids are fluctasinode (flonase), budesonide (rhinocort), and others.

Over-the-counter painkillers

These include ibuprofen (Advil, Brufen, and others), aspirin and acetaminophen (Panadol, Tylenol and others).

Antibiotics

Antibiotics are helpful if the infection is serious and persistent. Some of the prescribed antibiotics include Amoxil and Septra. The course of medication must be stringently followed for recovery.

Antifungal medication

These are used when sinusitis is caused by a fungal infection. These are prescribed when the symptoms are severe.

Surgery

In rare cases, surgery may be the course of treatment for sinusitis if the aforementioned methods are futile. The specialist prescribes the appropriate surgery depending on the nature of the sinusitis.

One common surgery for sinusitis is functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS). Nasal endoscopes are used to widen the drainage passages and flush out the sinuses. This can be performed under general or local anesthesia.

There are other types of surgery as well depending on the type of sinusitis. The surgery can correct a nasal constriction or remove the nasal polyps.

Prevention of Sinusitis

Since sinusitis is a common ailment, its prevention can greatly help in avoiding unnecessary discomfort and pain.

  1. Have healthy diet. Eating healthy foods like vegetables and fruits which have rich antioxidants and other important vitamins. Such foods can strengthen the immune system so it can quickly ward off the infection.
  2. Form good personal hygiene. Always wash hands before eating, drinking, and after using the toilet.
  3. Get vaccination. An influenza vaccine should be taken annually.
  4. Drink fluids. Keeping dehydrated by drinking plenty of water and juices can boost the moisture in the body.
  5. Don’t smoke and avoid pollutants. Abstaining from smoking and breathing in clean air keeps the air passages clean and free from germs.
  6. Use a humidifier. A humidifier can be used to keep nasal passages free from obstruction and to enhance moisture content.

You can get a general understanding of sinusitis from the following video:

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