Monday, January 7, 2013

Sinusitis In Depth

Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses that occurs with an infection from a virus, bacteria, or fungus.  The sinuses are air-filled spaces in the skull (behind the forehead, nasal bones, cheeks, and eyes).  Healthy sinuses contain no bacteria or other germs.  Usually, mucus is able to drain out and air is able to circulate.  When the sinuses become blocked or too much mucus builds up, bacteria and other germs can grow more easily.  Sinusitis can occur from one of these conditions: 

  • Small hairs (cilia) in the sinuses, which help move mucus out, do not work properly due to some medical conditions.
  • Colds and allergies may cause too much mucus to be made or block the opening of the sinuses.
  • A deviated nasal septum, nasal bone spur, or nasal polyps may block the opening of the sinuses.
Sinusitis can be called: 

  • Acute, when symptoms are present for 4 weeks or less.  It is caused by bacteria growing in the sinuses. 
  • Chronic, when swelling and inflammation of the sinuses are present for longer than 3 months.  It may be caused by a bacteria or a fungus.
The following may increase your risk or your child's risk of developing sinusitis: 

  • Allergic rhinitis or hay fever
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Day care
  • Diseases that prevent the cilia from working properly
  • Changes in altitude (flying or scuba diving)
  • Large adenoids 
  • Smoking
  • Weakened immune system from HIV or chemotherapy
The symptoms of acute sinusitis in adults usually follow a cold that does not improve, or one that gets worse after 5 to 7 days of symptoms.  Symptoms include: 

  • Bad breath or loss of smell
  • Cough, often worse at night
  • Fatigue, and generally not feeling well
  • Fever
  • Headache ---- pressure-like pain, pain behind the eyes, toothache, or tenderness of the face
  • Nasal stuffiness or discharge
  • Sore throat and postnasal drip
Symptoms of chronic sinusitis are the same of those of acute sinusitis, but tend to be milder and last longer than 12 weeks.  Symptoms of sinusitis in children include: 

  • Cold or respiratory illness that has been improving and then begins to get worse
  • High fever, along with a darkened nasal discharge, for at least 3 days
  • Nasal discharge, with or without a cough, that has been present for more than 10 days and is not improving
The physician will examine you or your child for sinusitis by: 

  • Looking in the nose for signs of polyps
  • Shining a light against the sinus (transillumination) for signs of inflammation
  • Tapping over a sinus area to find infection
Regular X-Rays of the sinus are not accurate in diagnosis of sinusitis.  Usually the best physician to see is a specialist.  These physicians are called ENTs or ear, nose, and throat specialists.  They will use a type of endoscopy of the nose.  Where they use a tube with a camera on it to view the sinuses and nasal cavity.  CT scans and MRI scans are very accurate in diagnosis, unlike X-rays.  If you have these symptoms, please seek medical attention, you most likely will have to be on a prescription medication to rid yourself of this.  Stay Informed!

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