How to Read Sinus Infection Symptoms?

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( — March 19, 2020) — In the winters, it is quite common to have a cold. However, if you ever had a cold that wasn’t going away, or would recur frequently, then chances are you are not dealing with a simple cold, but a sinus infection instead. Sinus infection—known as sinusitis, is quite common and affects millions all over the world. Even though the infection is common, it does not mean that it cannot become dangerous or painful. If you start experiencing severe breathing issues, you should get admitted to a hospital immediately. South City hospital can be a good option in this regard.

Read on more to know about sinus infection, and how you can deal with it.

What are the sinus cavities?

Sinuses or the sinus cavities are air-filled, hollow spaces inside the skull that are connected to the nose through narrow holes (known as ostium). There are four pairs of sinuses inside the human skull, and these are lined by mucus secreting lining. There is the frontal sinus in the forehead, the maxillary sinus in the cheekbones, ethmoid sinuses between the eyes and the sphenoid sinuses deeper to the ethmoids. Collectively, these sinuses are referred to as the “paranasal sinuses”.

Sinuses help in humidifying and warming the inspired air. Moreover, they increase the resonance of the voice and insulate the surrounding structures. In facial trauma, these air-filled cavities provide a modicum of protection by acting as buffers.

How does sinusitis occur?

Most of the time, the mucus produced by the lining of these sinus cavities, is swept away by cells specific to this purpose. However, in certain bacterial and viral infections, there is inflammation or swelling of these linings, and the mucus produced cannot be swept away; instead, the airway to the nose becomes blocked, and filled with fluid, bacteria and mucus.

Sinuses are commonly blocked in common colds, nasal polyps, deviated nasal septum and allergic rhinitis. Many people are prone to sinus infections if they have blocked drainage ducts, have narrow nasal ducts, have immune deficiency disorders or have nasal polyps.

Other common reasons for sinusitis include use of chemicals that can irritate the nasal passages, environmental pollen, or drugs of abuse that are inhaled or snorted through the nose. In children, the causes of sinusitis include allergens, drinking milk from bottles while lying down, pacifiers and smoke in the air (passive smoking).

In acute conditions, there is mostly stuffy nose, which can be accompanied by facial pain, headache, cough, runny nose or loss of sense of smell. At times, both tooth pain and halitosis are due to sinus infections. On the other hand, in chronic sinusitis, which lasts for more than 12 weeks, there is mostly feeling of fullness or congestion in the face. Some people also have fever, accompanied by pus in the nasal cavity.

How will the doctor investigate sinusitis?

To confirm the diagnosis, your healthcare provider will need some investigations. These can include a painless ‘nasal endoscopy’ whereby a flexible, thin scope is inserted into the nose to see the sinus openings. This is a simple and painless procedure that’s done after spraying the nose with a local anaesthetic to numb the nose.

If the diagnosis is still unclear, and your doctor recommends it, then you might need to get a CT scan of the head. A CT scan uses X-rays, to produce a cross-section view of the head. The CT will detect more serious inflammation in the sinuses and any growths if they are present in the sinus cavity.

Your doctor can also take a swab from the inside of the sinuses to check for any microbial growth. A culture and sensitivity test is done in this case to check for bacterial or fungal growth and the antibiotics that the bacteria responds to.

When to see the doctor?

If you have a cold that is not responding to treatment, then you might have a sinus infection. In this case, you should reach out to your healthcare provider to make a definitive diagnosis and start treatment accordingly. You can visit doctors hospital in this regard as it has multiple doctors on its panel who will be able to give you a proper diagnosis.

If you are a diagnosed case, but your symptoms last more than ten days, then you should reach out to your healthcare provider, as that could indicate a more serious infection.

Immediate help should be sought if there is onset of: fever, severe headache, swelling in the forehead, swelling around the eyes, stiffness of neck or double vision.

What is the treatment of sinusitis?

The mainstay of treatment for sinusitis is: nasal decongestants and saline douches. However, use of nasal decongestants should not be for more than three days, unless otherwise specified by your healthcare provider.

In case of bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic course of 10 to 14 days. While using antibiotics, patients should ensure that they are adhering to the course, even after relief from symptoms. Incorrect use of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, which can be a major problem. Warm, moist air is also helpful in alleviating symptoms. Use a good vaporizer or just inhale steam from a pan of warm water. Additionally, you can use warm compresses to ease the pain in the sinuses. If need be, your healthcare provider may also prescribe steroid nasal sprays to combat inflammation.

It must be remembered that prescription nasal sprays and other medication should only be used as directed by the physician or it will worsen symptoms otherwise.