WHAT IS SINUSITIS?

Sinuses are cavities that wind around the eyes and connect to your nose. Normally, in the absence of an infection, sinuses are filled with air. But, when the lining of the sinuses become inflamed, it causes the sinuses to fill up with fluid, resulting in what we call sinusitis or sinus infection. The swollen linings prevent the proper drainage of fluid leading to pressure around the eyes and behind the ears. Sinus infections, although not life-threatening, can cause extreme discomfort and disrupt a person’s normal routine. Dr. Kia is a top sinus doctor and has been treating and helping patients deal with sinus infections for over ten years. He is based in Brentwood, Los Angeles, and you can visit him to improve your condition.

WHAT CAUSES SINUSITIS?

There are several factors that can bring about the onset of sinusitis.

Nasal Polyps
Sinusitis can be caused by painless, non-cancerous tissue growths called polyps around the lining of the sinuses. These growths interfere with the process of fluid drainage and cause mucus to build up in the nasal cavities.

Respiratory tract infections or RTIs
RTIs like tonsillitis, laryngitis, and pharyngitis can cause the mucous membranes to get inflamed. This causes sinus infections.

Common cold
The common cold is one of the most common causes of sinusitis. A blocked nose along with inflamed linings and membranes together contribute to a lot of fluid build-up. This, in turn, causes sinus infections.

Nasal abnormalities
Some people suffer from a nasal abnormality called a deviated septum. A deviated septum means that the nasal bridge or the bone between the nostril has a slight displacement. This displacement, although very slight, interferes with the normal airflow through the nasal passages, and this can cause sinusitis.

Smoking
Smoking aggravates the sinuses and leads to swollen and inflamed membranes. Even second-hand smoke from cigarettes can cause a sinus infection.

THE SYMPTOMS

Sinus headaches
This is the most common symptom of a sinus infection. Patients complain of severe headaches and a feeling of pressure around the eyes, behind the ears, and along the nose. The sinus headaches are the result of a fluid build-up in the nasal cavities.

Tenderness
Another sign of sinusitis is a feeling of tenderness, especially near the cheeks. This is again due to the fluid build-up in the sinuses. In some cases, there might be facial swelling as well.

A sore throat and cough
A sore throat and cough due to irritated nasal passages are also common symptoms of sinusitis.

Nasal discharges
During a sinus infection, the nasal mucus changes from clear to cloudy as a result of the inflammation.

THE SYMPTOMS

Sinus headaches
This is the most common symptom of a sinus infection. Patients complain of severe headaches and a feeling of pressure around the eyes, behind the ears, and along the nose. The sinus headaches are the result of a fluid build-up in the nasal cavities.

Tenderness
Another sign of sinusitis is a feeling of tenderness, especially near the cheeks. This is again due to the fluid build-up in the sinuses. In some cases, there might be facial swelling as well.

A sore throat and cough
A sore throat and cough due to irritated nasal passages are also common symptoms of sinusitis.

Nasal discharges
During a sinus infection, the nasal mucus changes from clear to cloudy as a result of the inflammation.

HOW ARE SINUS INFECTIONS DIAGNOSED?

Most of the symptoms of a sinus infection mimic that of a common cold. It is extremely important to diagnose the symptoms correctly in order to start the correct treatment plan.

Diagnosis will start with a list of your symptoms. Following this, your doctor will insert an instrument through your nose to check for signs of swelling, congestion, and infection. If the symptoms are unclear, any of the following methods will be used for confirming the diagnoses.

NASAL ENDOSCOPY

The doctor will first apply a numbing nasal spray. After a couple of minutes, a thin, tube-like instrument called an endoscope, with a camera at the end of the tube is inserted through your nose. The camera will allow the doctor to have a clear view of your sinuses.

CT SCANS

CT scans consist of x-rays that are taken at different angles to give a cross-sectional view of your sinus passages.

SWABS

Sometimes, a sinus infection can be brought about by a bacterial or fungal infection. If your doctor suspects such an infection, he or she will swab your sinuses to determine this.

HOW ARE SINUS INFECTIONS TREATED?

Early diagnosis and proper treatment are essential to managing a sinus infection. Dr. Kia will offer you a very detailed treatment plan upon diagnosis to help you treat and manage your sinus infection. Medications such as decongestants and antihistamines are prescribed in cases where the sinus infection is triggered due to allergies. Antihistamines provide relief from swollen and inflamed nasal congestion that is caused due to allergens such as pollen, dust, pet dander, and others.

For bacterial infections, doctors prescribe antibiotics. The extent to which you have to take them depends on the severity of your infection. Acute conditions will need antibiotics for at least two weeks. Doctors may also prescribe painkillers to relieve other symptoms of sinusitis such as headaches. Decongestant nasal sprays are also prescribed to clear the fluid build-up in the nose. Sometimes, doctors may prescribe steroid nasal sprays in case of very severe sinusitis. In such cases, you should only take them for the time period recommended by your doctor.

All medicines should be taken as and when prescribed. This will relieve you from the symptoms much sooner.

In case of sinus infections that are brought about by a deviated nasal septum, doctors may recommend surgery. This is because, in such cases, sinus infections are likely to recur from time to time. Correcting the nasal structure might provide permanent relief from sinus infections. If you require a nasal correction surgery, your doctor will likely refer you to a plastic surgeon and the rest of your case will be taken up by him or her.

At home, you can make use of humidifiers to help prevent sinus infections since they help prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria in the air. Also, make sure that you regularly clean and dust your house.