Answers To Seven FAQs About Sinusitis

Does your head hurt when you bend down or when you wake up in the morning? Does your face feel stuffy, painful and congested? Are you experiencing a loss in your sense of smell? If you have answered “yes” to the above questions, you might have sinusitis. If you’re looking for more information on this condition or have questions as to what it is, this might help you out.

1. What Are Sinuses?

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Our sinuses are air-filled spaces between our facial bones that produce mucus which drains into the nasal passage. Our sinuses are differentiated into four types based on their position in the skull. That is the frontal sinuses (the ones in your forehead), the maxillary sinuses (the ones inside your cheekbones), the ethmoid sinuses (the ones on the sides of your nose and between your eyes), and the sphenoid sinuses (behind the ethmoid sinuses). When one has sinusitis, these are the areas from where the pain arises.

2. What Is Sinusitis?

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Sinusitis also called sinus infection is caused when our sinuses get inflamed. This inflammation might be caused due to variable factors like allergies, viruses, fungus, and bacteria. “The inflamed, swollen mucosa of the nasal and sinus cavities leads to obstruction of the openings of the sinuses, or ostia. Unable to circulate air and eliminate the secretions that are normally produced, the sinuses then become an ideal environment for bacterial infection.”

3. How Often Do People Get Sinusitis?

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According to the American Rhinologic Society, “In the United States, more than 30 million people are diagnosed with sinusitis each year. Moreover, chronic sinusitis affects approximately 15% of the U.S. population and is one of the most common chronic illnesses in America.” The good thing is that the condition can be easily diagnosed and is treatable.

4. What Are The Symptoms Of Sinusitis?

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The primary symptoms of sinusitis includes sinus headaches, facial pressure, thick and discolored mucus, nasal congestion, and loss of smell. Other symptoms could also include toothache, bad breath, ear pain, cough, fatigue and fever.

5. What Are The Types Of Sinusitis?

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Sinusitis can be broadly classified into two types – acute and chronic sinusitis. According to the American Academy Of Otolaryngology, “Chronic sinusitis lasts for a longer period of time than acute sinusitis and is likely caused by different things. Acute sinusitis is diagnosed when symptoms last up to 4 weeks. It is usually caused by viruses or bacteria. Chronic sinusitis is defined as lasting for 12 weeks or longer and is usually caused by prolonged inflammation, rather than a long standing infection. Infection can be a part of chronic sinusitis, especially when it worsens from time to time, but is not usually the main cause.”

6. What To Expect When Visiting A Doctor?

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If you have experienced the symptoms of sinusitis, it is recommended that you consult your doctor about your treatment options. The doctor may perform a nasal endoscopy to diagnose the condition and to determine whether it’s acute or chronic sinusitis. According to the American Rhinologic Society, “Nasal endoscopy provides a more detailed and extensive examination of the nasal cavity that may be necessary to identify the objective inflammatory findings needed to make a diagnosis of sinusitis.” Your doctor will also be able to determine whether the cause of the infection or inflammation is bacterial, viral, fungal or as a result of allergies.

7. What Are The Treatment Options For Sinusitis?

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In order to treat sinusitis, the cause for the inflammation and infection must be determined. In case of a bacterial infection, antibiotics or other alternative treatments can be prescribed. In the case of viral infection or inflammation, antibiotics will not help but other alternate treatments like nasal salt water treatment can bring about relief. Your doctor may also prescribe medication like decongestants to relieve some of the symptoms.