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Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)

Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the tissues in your sinuses (spaces in your forehead, cheeks and nose usually filled with air). It causes facial pain, a stuffy or runny nose, and sometimes a fever and other symptoms. It’s usually caused by the common cold, but other viruses, bacteria, fungi and allergies can also cause sinusitis.

What are sinuses?

Your sinuses are four paired cavities (spaces) in your head. Narrow passages connect them. Sinuses make mucus that drains out of the passages in your nose. This drainage helps keep your nose clean and free of bacteria, allergens and other germs (pathogens).

Types of sinusitis

We describe types of sinusitis based on how long it’s been going on (acute, subacute, chronic or recurrent) and what’s causing it (bacteria, virus or fungus).

Acute, subacute, chronic and recurrent sinusitis
  • Acute sinusitis symptoms (nasal congestion, drainage, facial pain/pressure and decreased sense of smell) last less than four weeks. It’s usually caused by viruses like the common cold.
  • Subacute sinusitis symptoms last four to 12 weeks.
  • Chronic sinusitis symptoms last at least 12 weeks. Bacteria are usually the cause.
  • Recurrent acute sinusitis symptoms come back four or more times in one year and last less than two weeks each time.
Bacterial and viral sinusitis

Viruses, like the ones that cause the common cold, cause most cases of sinusitis. Bacteria can cause sinusitis, or they can infect you after a case of viral sinusitis. If you have a runny nose, stuffy nose and facial pain that don’t go away after ten days, you might have bacterial sinusitis. Your symptoms may seem to improve but then return and are worse than the initial symptoms. Antibiotics and decongestants usually work well on bacterial sinusitis.

Fungal sinusitis

Sinus infections caused by fungus are usually more serious than other forms of sinusitis. They’re more likely to happen if you have a weakened immune system.

Frequently Asked Questions.

Colds, COVID-19, allergies and sinus infections all have similar symptoms. It can be difficult to tell them apart. The common cold typically builds, peaks and slowly disappears. It lasts a few days to a week. Nasal allergies cause sneezing, itchy nose and eyes, congestion, runny nose and postnasal drip (mucus in your throat). They usually don’t cause the facial pain that sinus infections do. COVID-19 can cause additional symptoms, like fever and shortness of breath.

A cold, COVID or allergies can all cause sinus infections. You can test yourself or have a provider test you for some viral infections, like COVID-19 and the flu.

Common symptoms of a sinus infection include:

  • Postnasal drip (mucus dripping down your throat).
  • Runny nose with thick yellow or green mucus.
  • Stuffy nose.
  • Facial pressure (particularly around your nose, eyes and forehead). This might get worse when you move your head around or bend over.
  • Pressure or pain in your teeth.
  • Ear pressure or pain.
  • Fever.
  • Bad breath (halitosis) or a bad taste in your mouth.
  • Cough.
  • Headache.
  • Tiredness.

Viruses, bacteria, fungi and allergens can cause sinusitis. Specific triggers for sinusitis include:

  • The common cold.
  • The flu (influenza).
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Haemophilus influenza
  • Moraxella catarrhalis
  • Nasal and seasonal allergies.

Some people are more likely to get sinusitis than others. Risk factors include:

  • Nasal allergies.
  • Asthma
  • Nasal polyps (growths).
  • Deviated septum. Your septum is a line of tissue that divides your nose. A deviated septum isn’t straight, narrowing the passage on one side of your nose. This can cause a blockage.
  • A weakened immune system. This can be from illnesses like HIV or cancer, or from certain medications.
  • Smoking

Sinusitis itself isn’t contagious. But the viruses and bacteria that can cause it are. Remember to follow good handwashing practices, avoid other people if you’re sick and sneeze or cough into your elbow.

You don’t necessarily need to treat sinusitis — it often goes away on its own. Very rarely, untreated sinus infections can lead to life-threatening infections. This happens if bacteria or fungi spread to your brain, eyes or nearby bone.

Healthcare providers diagnose sinusitis based on your symptoms and health history. A provider will check your ears, nose and throat for swelling, draining or blockage. They might use an endoscope (a small, lighted instrument) to look inside your nose.

A primary care provider may also refer you to a specialist, like an otolaryngologist (also called an ENT — an ear, nose and throat specialist).

Specific tests to diagnose sinusitis

Specific tests your provider might order to diagnose sinus infection include:

  • Nasal endoscopy.
  • Nasal swabs. Your provider may use a soft-tipped stick to get a fluid sample from your nose. They’ll test it for viruses or other germs that might be causing your symptoms.
  • Imaging. In some cases, your provider might order a computed tomography (CT) scan to better understand what’s happening inside your sinuses.
  • Allergy testing. If you have chronic sinusitis, your provider may test you for allergies that could be triggering it.
  • Biopsy. Rarely, a provider may take a tissue sample from your nose for testing.

There are many treatment options for sinusitis, depending on your symptoms and how long you’ve had them. You can treat a sinus infection at home with:

  • Decongestants.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) cold and allergy medications.
  • Nasal saline rinses.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids.

If symptoms of sinusitis don’t improve after 10 days, a provider may prescribe:

  • Antibiotics.
  • Oral or topical decongestants.
  • Prescription intranasal steroid sprays. (Don’t use nonprescription sprays or drops for longer than three to five days — they may actually increase congestion.)

Providers treat chronic sinusitis by focusing on the underlying condition. Treatments can include:

  • Intranasal steroid sprays.
  • Topical antihistamine sprays or oral pills.
  • Leukotriene antagonists, like montelukast.
  • Surgery to treat structural issues, polyps or fungal infections.

We at Temple Of Healing Homoeopathic Clinic, treat sinusitis and associated complaints with Homoeopathic medicines