Sinusitis means your sinuses are infected or inflamed. But this gives little indication of the misery and pain this condition can cause.
Health experts usually divide sinusitis cases into :-
- Acute cases, which last for 4 weeks or less
- Subacute cases, which last 4 to 12 weeks
- Chronic cases, which last more than 12 weeks and can continue for months or even years
- Recurrent cases, which involve several acute attacks within a year
Health experts estimate 37 million Americans are affected by sinusitis every year. Healthcare providers report nearly 32 million cases of chronic sinusitis to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annually. Americans spend $5.8 billion each year on healthcare costs related to sinusitis.
What Are Sinuses ?
When people say, "I'm having a sinus attack," they usually are referring to symptoms of congestion and achiness in one or more of four pairs of cavities, or sinuses, known as paranasal sinuses.
These cavities, located within the skull or bones of the head surrounding the nose, include :
- Frontal sinuses over the eyes in the brow area
- Maxillary sinuses inside each cheekbone
- Ethmoid sinuses just behind the bridge of the nose and between the eyes
- Sphenoid sinuses behind the ethmoids in the upper region of the nose and behind the eyes
One of the most common symptoms of sinusitis is pain, and the location depends on which sinus is affected.
- If you have a pain in your forehead over the frontal sinuses when you are touched, your frontal sinuses may be inflamed.
- If your upper jaw and teeth ache, and your cheeks become tender to the touch, you may have an infection in the maxillary sinuses.
- If you have swelling of the eyelids and tissues around your eyes, and pain between your eyes, you may have inflammation of the ethmoid sinuses that are near the tear ducts in the corner of your eyes. Ethmoid inflammation also can cause a stuffy nose, a loss of smell, and tenderness when you touch the sides of your nose.
- If you have earaches, neck pain, and deep achiness at the top of your head, you may have infection in the sphenoid sinuses, although these sinuses are less frequently affected.
Most people with sinusitis have pain or tenderness in several locations, and their symptoms usually do not clearly indicate which sinuses are inflamed.
Because your nose can get stuffy when you have a condition like the common cold, you may confuse simple nasal congestion with sinusitis. A cold, however, usually lasts about 7 to 14 days and goes away without treatment. Acute sinusitis often lasts longer and typically causes more symptoms than a cold.
Your healthcare provider can usually diagnose acute sinusitis by noting your symptoms and doing a physical examination, which includes examining your nasal tissues. If your symptoms are vague or persist, your healthcare provider may order a computed tomography (CT) scan, a form of X-ray, to confirm that you have sinusitis.
Laboratory tests your healthcare provider may use to diagnose chronic sinusitis include :
- Blood tests to rule out conditions associated with sinusitis, like an immune deficiency disorder
- A sweat test or a blood test to rule out cystic fibrosis
- Tests on the material that is inside your sinuses to detect bacterial or fungal infection
- Biopsy of the membranes (linings) of the nose or sinuses to determine the health of the cells lining these cavities
After diagnosing sinusitis and identifying a possible cause, your healthcare provider can suggest various treatments.
If you have acute sinusitis, your healthcare provider may recommend :
- Antibiotics to control a bacterial infection, if present
- Pain relievers to reduce any pain
- Decongestants to reduce congestion
Even if you have acute sinusitis, your provider may choose not to use an antibiotic because many cases of acute sinusitis will end on their own. But if you do not feel better after a few days you should contact your provider again.
You should use over-the-counter or prescription decongestant nose drops and sprays only for few days. If you use these medicines for longer periods, they can lead to even more congestion and swelling of your nasal passages.
Healthcare providers often find it difficult to treat chronic sinusitis successfully. The two main forms of treatment that are used, nasal steroid sprays and long courses of oral antibiotics, alone or in combination, have not been rigorously tested in chronic sinusitis. Scientists need to do more research to determine what the best treatment is.
- Enlarges the natural opening of the sinuses
- Removes any polyps
- Corrects significant anatomic deformities that contribute to the obstruction
Most people have fewer symptoms and better quality of life after surgery. In a substantial number of people, however, problems can recur after surgery, sometimes even after a short period of time.
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