Sinus Infection Symptoms and Treatment

Have you been having persistent cold and flu like symptoms? Do you also experience headaches or pain around the cheekbones? Read on to learn about sinus infection symptoms and treatment.
| Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sinus infection also known as sinusitis is the condition where inflammation of the nasal passage and sinuses occurs. Sinuses are basically located within the human skull and are four pairs of hollow cavities. The nasal passage and the space in between the nostrils are connected with the sinuses. These help in insulating the skull and reducing its weight and also aids in the resonating of the voice. These four sinus pairs also provide defense against all foreign viruses and other bacteria. If the normal defense line is disrupted then the bacteria may enter the sinuses and thereby cause an infection in the sinus when the germs stick to the lining. This condition often results in pressure around the eyes or the nose and cheek areas or on either side of the head. Someone who suffers from sinusitis may also experience cough and fever together with intense nasal congestion, nasal secretions and bad breath. The symptoms may result in the diagnosis of this condition being made as an acute case (where the onset is sudden) or a chronic case (where the onset is gradual and long term)

If it is an acute case of sinusitis then it may last up to eight weeks and an attack may occur around three times in a year. Medication can be effective in treatment of sinusitis. If an effective line of treatment is followed then it can help in eliminating the damage caused to the mucous lining in the sinus. However if it is a case of chronic sinusitis then such an attack can last more than eight weeks and occur frequently too. Acute sinusitis may be as a result of some viral infection within the respiratory tract but sometimes it may also be triggered by allergens and pollutants. Such a reaction leads to inflammation with the thickening of the lining and obstruction of the nasal passage. Following the obstruction the bacteria within the sinus lining multiply and the resultant sinus infection can be seen. The bacteria normally responsible for cases of sinusitis include streptococcus pneumoniae, moraxella catarrhalis and haemophilus influenzae. Chronic sinusitis on the other hand is caused because of staphylococcus aureus and some other anaerobes.

Symptoms of Sinusitis

The symptoms of a sinus infection usually differ depending on which sinus is affected and also whether the infection is acute or a chronic one.

Acute Sinusitis

Maxillary sinusitis (location is behind the cheek bones)

  • Pain in the area of the cheek bones and the eyes or in the area surrounding the upper teeth region and this pain may be on one side or both sides of the face.
  • The pain or pressure may also be followed by tenderness in that region and redness and swollen cheekbones. This pain and pressure may become worse with movement of the head towards the front and the pressure may feel less when a person is reclining or resting.
  • There is a good deal of nasal discharge and fever may also be a common symptom.

Ethmoid Sinusitis (location is in the area behind the eyes)

  • Nasal congestion along with discharge occurs or the mucus may drip down the individual's throat. The pain and pressure in this case is felt around the corner of the person's eye on the inner side or on one side of the nose.
  • The headache in this case can be felt around the eye region or in the temple area. The pain and pressure usually becomes worse on coughing and lying down and it may feel slightly better when the person is keeping his head in an upright position. Fever is also a common part of the symptoms.

Sphenoid Sinusitis (location is behind the eyes)

  • The headache in this case is rather deep and on the top or behind the head. It may also be behind the eyes or across the person's forehead. Fever is a common symptom. Also the pain becomes worse when the person reclines or bends forward.
  • Another problem in this sinusitis is that the individual may experience disturbed vision or double vision and this happens if the pressure extends around the brain region. Nasal discharge also frequently occurs.

Frontal Sinusitis (behind the forehead region on one or both the sides)

  • A person ordinarily experiences severe headaches in this form of sinusitis particularly in the forehead region and fever is also common.
  • The pain usually becomes worse when the person is reclining and gets better if the head is kept in an upright position and there is also a frequent problem of nasal discharge.

Chronic Sinusitis

Maxillary Sinusitis

  • The individual ordinarily experience considerable discomfort under the eye region or pressure in the same area along with persistent and chronic tooth ache.
  • The pain in this case usually becomes worse with any allergies, flu or cold and discomfort increases as the cold increases during the night.

Ethmoid Sinusitis

  • In this form of chronic sinusitis the person experiences nasal discharge and persistent discomfort around the bridge of the nose.
  • The pain in this case becomes worse during the morning and when the person wears glasses and the individual may also suffer from a sore throat on a chronic basis along with bad breath.

Sphenoid Sinusitis

  • In sphenoid sinusitis the person may experience a low level general headache.

Frontal Sinusitis

  • This is characterized with continuous and low level headache around the forehead region. In this case there may be a history of some sort of a trauma to the sinus area or damage of some kind.

Treatment and Recovery for Sinus Infection

Treatment for sinusitis should be promptly given since untreated condition can result in some complications such as blindness following infection in the eye socket as a result of ethmoid sinusitis. Sometimes a blood clot may also be formed around the sinus area and there may also be other problems such as seizures, coma and even death in extreme cases. To detect sinusitis problems usually CT scans and ultrasounds along with routine check ups may be employed. These allow a physician to determine whether it is actually sinusitis or an upper respiratory infection problem.

Since this condition is caused by bacteria, often an antibiotic treatment is required along with adequate self care on a daily basis. An individual suffering from sinusitis should ordinarily drink water and other hydrating liquids such as tea so as to promote drainage and provide relief. Likewise inhalation of steam around two to four times every day can help in providing relief. Inhalation of steam can be done by leaning over a bowl containing hot water or then a steam vaporizer can also be used. This helps in opening the nasal passageway.

The individual can also use expectorants that are drugs that help in expelling the mucus and thereby aid in draining the sinuses. Decongestants and other cough suppressants can also be used to alleviate the problem. Other pain medication can also be used to reduce inflammation and the pain and discomfort associated with this condition. Acute cases of sinusitis are treated with specific antibiotics like penicillin and amoxicillin. The line of treatment is dependent on the extent of complications if any and the history of the patient in terms of any known allergies to specific drugs. Where this condition is caused by allergen, antihistamines are used to tackle the problem of the allergies and to reduce the swelling. In some cases of acute sinusitis steroids are also prescribed including intranasal steroids. In many cases several combined lines of treatment are followed so as to ensure that the person gets some relief. In extreme cases a surgery can also be performed. This surgery involves an endoscope procedure to remove obstructions and to open the nasal passage. Following this surgery steroids and antibiotics may also be prescribed.

The best way to prevent a sinus infection is to avoid contraction of any upper respiratory tract infection. The individual can also get a yearly influenza vaccination as this will help in preventing flu and other infections. General cleanliness such as washing hands along with a diet rich in anti oxidants can also help to prevent the onset of this condition.

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