Sinusitis: Its Development and Treatment

Category: Miscellaneous Articles Published on Wednesday, 25 June 2008 Written by Yong Tsai, MD

Located within the bony structure of the cheek called maxillary, behind the forehead and eyebrows, called frontal, on either side of the bridge of the nose called the ethmoid, and behind the nose in front of the brain, called the sphenoid, are the sinuses.

Each sinus cavity holds an opening into the nasal passage of continuous membrane lining that allows to breathe and exhale air and to dispose of mucous   Swelling of the nasal passage blocks the sinus opening, impairing sinus drainage, blood flow and ventilation, which promote infection.

Sinusitis, "itis" meaning inflammation, may be or may not be caused by an infection.  When symptoms last at most three weeks, sinusitis is considered to be acute, while bouts of three to eight weeks are considered to be chronic.  Unfortunately, sinusitis can reoccur several times a year.

Bacterial sinusitis is often a complication of upper airway infection, allergic rhinitis, or as result of swelling of the nasal mucosa near sinus opening. On the other hand, causes of noninfectious sinusitis include environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoke, fertilizers, exhaust from cars and smoke from factories.

Symptoms such as headache, facial pain, fever, a stuffy nose and yellow or green nasal discharge often precede acute sinusitis, whereas nasal stuffiness and congestion can also occur as a result of the common cold.  The difference between sinusitis and the common cold is that the common cold usually lasts about 7 to 14 days, while sinusitis often lasts longer and typically causes more symptoms.  Other associated symptoms of acute sinusitis are cough, pain upon chewing, reduced sense of smell (hyposmia) and foul breath.  For chronic sinusitis, the symptoms may be less sudden, but still include facial pain, headache, cough or persistent nasal discharge.

Treatment for acute sinusitis must include a course of antibiotics, antihistamines, nasal corticosteroid spray and nasal decongestants or prolonged antibiotic treatment for two to three weeks if the condition is chronic.  Good prevention is to use normal saline nasal spray daily; to start allergy injections is the sinusitis is due to allergy, and to use a nasal corticosteroid or vaporizer/ humidifier at night to help relieve nasal congestion.

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