Sinuses are small air pockets that are located behind your nose, cheekbones, forehead, and between the eyes. Sinuses can produce a thin and flowing liquid called mucous which protects the body by trapping and moving germs away. Sinusitis is an inflammation or swelling of the mucous tissue of the sinuses due to an infection caused by either bacteria, virus, or germs. Sometimes, bacteria or allergens can lead to forming too much mucus and can block the opening of your sinuses and nasal passages.
Majorly, sinusitis is caused by viral infections and they can go away within a week or two without any course of the treatment plan. In case you are suffering from symptoms of sinusitis for more than 7-14 days, then you are suffering from a bacterial infection and should consult the doctor to seek immediate medical attention.
What Are The Causes Of Sinusitis?
Mainly, sinusitis can be caused by either a bacterial infection or a viral infection. However, it can be caused by any of the following conditions.
- Excessive mucus formation: Bacterial and viral infections can cause excess mucus production and can block the nasal passages and opening of the sinuses. This can lead to the accumulation of germs in the sinuses and causes sinusitis.
- Small hairs [cilia] in nostrils: Cilia or small hairs that are present in nostrils can help to move out the mucus by moving forth and back. Due to some medical conditions or diseases, your cilia can fail to move out mucus from nostrils and can cause sinus infection [sinusitis]
- Common cold and allergies: Common cold and allergies like hay fever can cause too much mucus to form and block the opening of the sinus or block the nasal passages leading to sinusitis.
- Nasal polyps: Nasal polyps are non-cancerous growths on the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses. They are soft and painless growths that hang down like teardrops or grapes. They result from chronic inflammation and are associated with asthma, recurring infection, allergies, drug sensitivity, or certain immune disorders. These tissue growths can block the nasal passages or sinuses which lead to sinusitis.
- Respiratory tract infections: Few of the respiratory tract infections can cause inflammation & swelling of your sinuses which lead to block the drainage of mucus and cause sinusitis. The infection can be either viral, bacterial, or fungal.
- Deviated nasal septum: Nasal septum is a wall that separates both nostrils. In case your nasal septum is deviated or crooked, it can block or restrict the nasal passages and sinuses opening. This condition can worsen your sinusitis symptoms and lead to chronic or recurrent sinusitis.
- Underlying diseases or medical conditions: Few diseases and medical conditions like cystic fibrosis, HIV, Churg-Strauss syndrome, and immune system disorders can lead to nasal blockage and can cause sinusitis.
What Are The Treatment Options For A Sinus Infection [Sinusitis]?
If you have sinusitis and are suffering from its symptoms, your doctor can recommend either surgical or non-surgical treatment options. Below are a few of the sinusitis treatment options.
- Functional endoscopic sinus surgery [FESS]: To treat chronic sinusitis, your doctor can recommend endoscopic sinus surgery. During the surgery, your surgeon can use an endoscope to find and locate the abnormalities inside the nasal passages. Later, with the help of the latest surgical instruments, your surgeon can remove the nasal polyps and can correct the deviated septum which leads to improve your breathing and reduce the occurrence of sinusitis.
- Image-guided sinus surgery: Image-guided sinus surgery can be performed under general anesthesia and takes about two hours to complete. Before performing the surgery, your doctor can upload the data from your sinus CT scan to a computer. Once the endoscope is inserted through the nostrils and is in place of the sinuses, your surgeon can use microsurgical instruments to treat sinusitis. Computer guidance allows surgeons to precisely identify and remove tissue or bone while preserving surrounding structures.
- Balloon sinuplasty: Balloon sinuplasty can help your surgeon to dilate the blocked sinus by creating open space and allows the sinus to drain normally. In this surgery, an endoscope can be used to locate the site of sinusitis, and then a thin catheter with a small balloon attached is guided along the wire to the blocked sinus and positioned at its opening. Now, the balloon is inflated slowly allowing normal drainage of mucus and helps in resolving the blockage. Balloon sinuplasty can be performed in combination with endoscopic or image-guided sinus surgery.
- Painkillers: Your doctor can prescribe a few painkillers to relieve the pain that you are suffering from and can help in improving your overall health condition. However, before using OTC painkillers in children, discuss with your doctor, and follow all the instructions and directions suggested by your doctor.
- Saline nasal spray: Your doctor can recommend spraying saline into your nasal passages several times a day. This helps in rinsing and unblocking your nasal passages along with sinuses opening. Saline nasal spray can help in the reduction of the severity of your sinusitis symptoms.
- Nasal corticosteroids: Your doctor can recommend nasal corticosteroids to help in treating and preventing the inflammation of your sinuses caused due to infection. Few of the nasal corticosteroids that can be prescribed by your doctor can include fluticasone, budesonide, mometasone, and beclomethasone, etc.
- Decongestants: If you suffer from nasal congestion, your doctor can suggest using either OTC or prescribed nasal decongestants which are in the form of liquids, tablets, and nasal sprays. Nasal decongestants should be used for only a few days and should not continue for longer periods. Using for a long period, decongestants can cause the return of more-severe congestion [rebound congestion].
- Antibiotic medications: If your symptoms don’t improve or go away within a few weeks, you should contact your doctor immediately. Once you are diagnosed with a bacterial infection, your doctor can prescribe a course of antibiotic medication treatment. You should take the whole course even after your symptoms get better. If you stop taking antibiotics early, your symptoms may recur.
- Immunotherapy: If your sinusitis is caused by allergens, then your doctor can recommend undergoing immunotherapy [allergy shots] to reduce your body reaction to specific allergens and help in treating and reducing your symptoms.
Sinusitis can affect any individual regardless of age and sex. Acute sinusitis can go away on its own within a few weeks, in case you have chronic sinusitis, you need to undergo a surgical treatment option along with a few medications. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and the complexity of your sinusitis, your doctor can decide what surgical treatment you need to undergo. Your doctor can suggest a few lifestyle modifications and dietary changes along with surgical intervention. Following all the instructions and directions suggested by your doctor can help you to reduce the occurrence of sinusitis symptoms and to prevent further sinusitis.