What is Sinus Infection?
Sinus infection (known as sinusitis) is a major health problem. Sinusitis or sinus infection is an inflammation of the sinuses that often caused by bacterial (germ) infection. People with weak immune systems are more likely to develop bacterial or fungal sinus infection while some people with allergies can have “allergic fungal sinus infection”.
The four major pairs of sinuses are the:
- Frontal sinuses (in the forehead)
- Maxillary sinuses (behind the cheek bones)
- Ethmoid sinuses (between the eyes)
- Sphenoid sinuses (behind the eyes)
Sinus Infection Types
Sinuses are normally air-filled pockets in the bone of the face found in your forehead, at the bridge of your nose, way behind your eyes and at the apples of your cheeks. Infection happens if these air pockets become blocked with fluid, germ like viruses or bacteria (and sometimes fungus). There are two types of sinus infection based on the type of inflammation:
- Infected sinusitis usually is caused by uncomplicated virus infection. Less frequently, bacterial growth causes sinus infection and fungal sinus infection is very infrequent. Sub-acute and chronic forms of sinus infection usually are the result of incomplete treatment of an acute sinus infection.
- Noninfectious sinusitis is caused by irritants and allergic conditions and follows the same general time line for acute, sub-acute and chronic as infectious sinusitis.
Sinusitis (sinus infection) classification based on its duration:
- Acute sinusitis: sinusitis that only lasts for a short time, as less than four weeks. An acute infection is usually part of a cold or other respiratory illness.
- Sub-acute sinus inflammation: Lasts roughly 4-12 weeks.
- Recurrent sinusitis: When symptoms return several times per year.
- Chronic sinus: infections last for more than twelve weeks or continue to recur. Specialists agree that the main criteria for this chronic sinusitis include facial pain, infected nasal discharge, and congestion.
What Causes Sinus Infection?
Normally, causes of sinus infections are colds, seasonal allergies, nasal polyps or a deviated septum. With a deviated septum one side of the nose is shifted over, and it makes it hard to drain mucous, so the sinuses get backed up. People with asthma, cystic fibrosis, and allergies are more likely to get sinusitis. Sinus infection usually causes within:
- common cold
- influenza (flu)
- viral infection
- medical problems that affect ability to fight infection (e.g., HIV, cystic fibrosis)
- hay fever
- Dental infection
- A change in atmospheric pressure
- Smoking and other air pollutants
Symptoms of Sinus Infection
Unlike a cold, sinus infection symptoms may be caused by bacterial infections. It often requires treatment with antibiotics. Allergies can play an important role in chronic (long-lasting) or seasonal rhinitis episodes. Nasal and sinus passages become swollen, congested, and inflamed in an attempt to flush out offending inhaled particles that trigger allergies. Sinusitis has very different symptom from a cold or the flu. The main symptoms are face pain or pressure, congestion, nasal discharge or post-nasal drip, and reduced ability to smell.
- Poor drainage of the affected sinus – the sinus drainage channel may become fully or partially blocked.
- A build-up of mucus in the sinus.
- Inflammatory changes to the lining of the sinus that results from infection.
- A flare-up of infection from time to time as a result of these changes.
- A runny nose. The discharge may be green/yellow color
- A reduced sense of smell.
- Pain over the affected sinus.
- Bad breath
- A feeling of pressure or fullness in the ears
Side Effect of Sinus Infection
- Rash, can result from taking antibiotics for sinusitis.
- stomach issues,
- The overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics also leads to superbugs
Complication Caused by Sinus Infection
Infection of the sinus cavity close to the brain can be life threatening.
- Chronic sinusitis. Acute sinusitis may be a flare-up of a long-term problem known as chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis lasts longer than 12 weeks.
- This infection causes inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding your brain and spinal cord.
- Other infections. Infection can spread to the bones (osteomyelitis) or skin (cellulitis).
- Partial or complete loss of sense of smell. Nasal obstruction and inflammation of the nerve for smell (olfactory nerve) can cause temporary or permanent loss of smell.
- Vision problems. If infection spreads to eye socket, it can cause permanent reduced vision or even blindness.
- Brain abscesses
Sinus Infection Diagnosis
Diagnose sinus infection depends on symptoms and also requires an examination of the throat, nose and sinuses.
- sinus CT scan: CT scan may indicate a sinus infection if any of the these conditions is present:
- Air-fluid levels in one or more sinuses
- Total blockage in one or more sinuses
- Thickening of the inner lining (mucosa) of the sinuses
- Mucus cultures: mucus samples are taken from the nose to determine what is causing the infection
- Ultrasound Test
- Check for underlying factors such as allergies, asthma, structural defects, or a weakness of the immune system.
- bone biopsy
Best Treatments for Sinus Infection
A sinus infection (sinusitis) does not typically need to be treated with antibiotics in order to get better.
- antifungal agents: If the infection is caused by fungus
- oral steroids: needed when allergic fungal sinusitis not respond to antifungal agents
- Nasal endoscopy (rhinoscopy) is recommended to detect polyps, abnormalities and structural issues in the nasal septum.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are standard treatments for bacterial sinus infections.
- Immunoglobulin: help protect the immune system in people with immune deficiencies that contribute to infection.
- Nasal decongestant sprays: These medications shrink swollen nasal passages, facilitating the flow of drainage from the sinuses.
- Antihistamines: Antihistamines block inflammation caused by an allergic reaction so they can help to fight symptoms of allergies that can lead to swollen nasal and sinus passages.
- Over-the-counter combination drugs should be used with caution. Some of these drugs contain drying agents that can thicken mucus.
- Topical nasal corticosteroids: Topical nasal corticosteroid sprays are also effective in shrinking and preventing the return of nasal polyps.
- Nasal saline washes: Nasal rinses help clear thickened secretions from the nasal passages.
- Surgery: surgery may be recommended If drug therapies have failed
Other Alternative Treatment for Sinus Infection
- distilled water
- homemade Nasal solutions made from saline and baking soda mixture
- Warm compresses can ease pain in the nose and sinuses
- Home remedies to help relieve symptoms of sinusitis include
- drinking plenty of water
- inhaling steam: Inhale steam two to four times per day by leaning over a bowl of hot water
- taking a steamy shower
- using mentholated preparations
- nasal irrigation
Best Sinus Infection Medication
- OTC steroid nasal sprays: budesonide (Rhinocort), fluticasone (Flonase), and triamcinolone (Nasacort) are steroids that can also help reduce inflammation of the nasal passages.
- OTC oral decongestants: OTC oral decongestants (in tablet or liquid form) contain the active ingredients pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine.
When You Need to Visit a Doctor
See a healthcare professional if any of the following happen:
- Symptoms that either don’t improve within a few days or worsen
- A persistent fever with temperature higher than 100.4 °F
- Multiple sinus infections in the past year
- A history of recurrent or chronic sinusitis
- Pain when moving the eye, redness of the eyes or face, or swelling around the eye.
- dilated pupil (the pupil is larger than usual)
How to Prevent Sinus Infection?
- Avoiding things that irritate your nose and sinuses
- Avoid Smoking
- treat allergies that causes persistent sinus symptoms
- Good hygiene by keeping sinuses moist and clear
- Avoid upper respiratory infections. Minimize contact with people who have colds or wearing a disposable mask.
- Avoid polluted air: pollutants can irritate and inflame your lungs and nasal passages and cause sinus infection.
- Use a humidifier: prevent sinusitis by adding moisture to the air.
- Flu vaccination:routine annual vaccination will help to prevent the flu (influenza) and subsequent infection of the upper respiratory tract.
- Gently blowing the nose, one nostril at a time, rather than sniffing
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