Sinusitis is a common inflammation that causes significant nasal congestion but what are the other symptoms? And how can you differentiate it from other ENT infections like the common cold?
Sinusitis is one of the most commonly detected respiratory infections in the winter, with thousands of victims every year. However, the disease is in the vast majority of cases benign.
Definition: What Is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes found in the sinuses. The sinuses are the bony cavities in the face. Each sinus communicates with the nasal cavity through thin openings through which flows the mucous produced in the sinuses. There are 4 pairs and each sinus has a different name depending on its position, so there are several forms of sinusitis: we speak of frontal sinusitis, maxillary, sphenoidal, ethmoidal ...
Maxillary sinusitis is most common. Whilst the other types are rarer, they present risks of greater complications. Acute sinusitis occurs when it lasts a few weeks and does not reappear more than three times a year. Chronic sinusitis is when it lasts more than 2 months and is recurrent.
Causes: What Causes Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. When a bacterium spreads in the sinuses, the lining gets irritated and swells, clogging the sinuses. While it is normally drained by the nose, the mucous is no longer able to flow, allowing micro-organisms to multiply freely. The presence of mucous also causes an increase in sinus pressure. Sinusitis often occurs as a result of nasopharyngitis.
Other causes of sinusitis include bacterial infection, allergies, nasal polyps, nasal wall deflection, dental abscess, and air pollution.
Symptoms: How To Recognize Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is characterized by typical symptoms that include:
- facial pain (localization of pain usually indicates the focus of infection)
- mild fever and general discomfort
- sensation pressure in the area of, or on the side(s)
- nasal congestion (stuffy nose) and sneezing
Nasal secretions will also be present. In the case of purulent sinusitis, these will be yellowish or greenish, and transparent in the case of viral sinusitis.
Frontal, sphenoidal and ethmoidal sinusitis are characterized by slightly different signs.
- Frontal sinusitis causes a throbbing pain located above a single eye, high fever (over 38.5 ° C) and a runny nose on one side.
- Sphenoid sinusitis is manifested by deep and intense headaches behind the eye. The temperature is also high.
- Ethmoidal sinusitis may be indicated by swelling of the eyelid and associated eye pain and a temperature above 38.5 ° C.
Acute sinusitis lasts about 2 weeks, however the infection can last longer depending on the person. When symptoms persist for more than two weeks, it is called chronic sinusitis.
Treatment: How To Cure Sinusitis?
When it is viral, sinusitis heals on its own in a few weeks in 75% of cases. But it is possible to use natural care to relieve the first symptoms such as inhalation of steam, salt water, etc. which will help restore sinus drainage and reduce pressure. It is also possible to use drugs. Painkillers can be used to alleviate pain and headaches or antihistamines if the sinusitis is caused by an allergy. If the pain is severe, decongestants or corticosteroids may be prescribed. Frequent nose blowing usually helps to remove sinusitis within a few days.
When the infection is bacterial, antibiotics may be prescribed by the doctor. The treatment lasts 7 to 10 days and can slightly shorten the duration of sinusitis and reduce the symptoms. The frontal sinus, ethmoidal or sphenoidal types are most often bacterial and therefore require antibiotics. In the case of chronic sinusitis not responding to previous treatments, it is possible to resort to surgery. This involves draining the sinuses by restoring the openings to the nasal cavity, repositioning the nasal septum or removing the nasal polyps which cause the illness.