Sinusitis, now more appropriately called rhinosinusitis (rhino referring to the nose, sinus to the sinuses), is one of the most common reasons people visit their doctor. It's important to know and understand sinus infections, how you can help prevent and treat them, and when you need to see your doctor.
Sinusitis is infection and inflammation of the facial sinuses. The sinuses are the air-filled spaces within the bones of the face. They have a mucous lining which has small hairs, or 'cilia'. The sinuses are thought to function to humidify and warm the air we breath, while the cilia help clear mucous and debris. Usually, when we are well, they are open spaces with very little, freely draining mucous.
Sinusitis most commonly occurs after a viral cold or flu. During the cold or flu, large amounts of mucous are produced, and the mucous lining of the nose and sinuses become inflamed and swollen. Swelling, along with the mucous, blocks the sinuses. In addition, the cilia are impaired by infection. Stagnant mucous is a great place for germs to grow, and bacteria soon infect the airways.
Allergy can be another contributing factor to sinusitis in a similar way to a virus. During allergy attacks, large amounts of mucous are produced and the mucous becomes inflamed, creating the ideal conditions for sinus infection.
Most people notice a sinus infection when they suddenly feel worse from a cold that was beginning to improve. Other common symptoms are headache, facial pain or 'pressure' (of the cheek bones, forehead or over the upper teeth) especially when leaning forward, yellow-green mucous, fatigue and fever.
It is important to remember that while some sinus infections need antibiotics, this is not appropriate in every case. Important things you can do to help alleviate symptoms and speed up recovery, with or without antibiotics are the following:
Your Holdsworth House doctor may prescribe antibiotics, and sometimes a steroid in the form of a nasal-spray, to help resolve sinusitis. Talk to your Holdsworth House doctor if your symptoms are not resolving, you have a fever or sever pain, or if there are any concerns.