Sinusitis

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What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinus, the air filled cavities adjacent to the nasal passage. Sinusitis commonly affects the ethmoidal sinuses, located between the eyes; and the maxillary sinuses, located in the cheek bone.

How does it occur?

Germs that cause sinusitis are contagious, including viruses and bacteria.  Irritation from smoke and allergies can also predispose one to sinusitis.

What are the symptoms?

  • Feeling of pressure inside the head/face
  • Eye pain and Headache worse bending over
  • Cheek pain that may resemble a toothache
  • Cough, Runny nose or Post-nasal drip
  • Poor sleep and Fatigue
  • Fever (sometimes)
  • Complete blockage of the nasal passages and sinuses with increasing pain

Prevention

Avoiding persons sick with respiratory infections and frequent hand washing, prior to eating and after using bathrooms.

Diagnosis

Sinusitis is usually diagnosed clinically. Supplemental testing may aid diagnosis of more severe infections, and may include blood tests, cultures, x-rays, CT scan of sinus, endoscopy.

Treatment

Goal of treatment is improving drainage and controlling infection. Use a cool-mist, ultrasonic humidifier to thin secretions so they will drain more easily. For infants and young children who cannot blow the nose, use a nasal aspirator to suction each nostril gently before applying saline (salt water) nose drops to moisten nasal passages, and again 10 minutes after using nose drops.

Apply moist heat to relieve pain in the sinuses and nose. Don’t allow other persons to use your nose drops and discard after treatment. Avoid decongestant nose drops or sprays as these can cause rebound congestion. Sinusitis not responding to treatment may require surgery to drain blocked sinuses.

Medications

Antibiotics may be prescribed to fight infections if caused by bacteria. Oral expectorants and decongestants such as over-the-counter pills or liquids containing guaifenesin and pseudoephedrine may be used to decrease sinus pressure. Nasal sprays with steroids may be prescribed. For minor pain you may use nonprescription analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) as directed.

Diet

Drink plenty of fluids, generally 8 to 10 eight-ounce glasses of fluid.

Activity

Resume your normal activity gradually.  Exercise is permitted if you do not have a fever.

Seek Immediate Care

If symptoms worsen, including fever, bleeding from the nose, severe headache, swelling of the face, nausea or vomiting, blurred or double vision occur.