Sinusitis occurs in 37 million Americans each year. But many people often try to treat their symptoms with over the counter products. So before you head out to the drugstore, you’ll want to understand your symptoms and how to handle this condition effectively.
The sinuses are small hollow spaces in the skull that are normally filled with air. They have the same mucous membrane lining as the nose. The membrane products a slimy secretion (Mucus), that keep the nasal passages moist. The mucus trap allergens and pollutants that surround us on a daily basis.
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the tissues that line each sinus cavity. The inflammation could be caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungus. In some cases, swelling can block off the sinus cavities, trapping mucus and air inside them. This can cause a person to experience sinus pain and pressure.
Acute Vs. Chronic Sinusitis Doctors & Treatments
Acute sinusitis means that an infection has developed quickly (over a few days) and lasts for a short period of time. In most cases, acute sinusitis develops from a cold or flu-like illness. Many cases last a week but it is also not unusual for sinusitis to last 2-3 weeks. Sinusitis is said to be acute if it lasts from 4-30 days. Chronic sinusitis lasts longer than 12 weeks.
Other risk factors – in a few people, one or more factors are present that may cause their sinuses to be more prone to infection. Acute sinusitis may be more likely to progress into chronic sinusitis as there is an underlying problem. Such factors include:
Nasal allergy (allergic rhinitis). The allergy may cause swelling of the tissues on the inside lining of the nose and block the sinus drainage channels. This makes the sinuses more susceptible to infection. See separate leaflets called Hay Fever and Persistent Rhinitis which discuss allergic rhinitis in more detail.
Other causes of a blockage to the sinus drainage channels, such as:
- Growths (nasal polyps)
Glands in your nose and throat continually produce mucus (one to two quarts a day). Mucus moistens and cleans the nasal membranes, humidifies air, traps and clears inhaled foreign matter, and fights infection. Although it is normally swallowed unconsciously, the feeling of it accumulating in the throat or dripping from the back of your nose is called post-nasal drip. This sensation can be caused by excessively thick secretions or by throat muscle and swallowing disorders.
Symptoms include headache, facial pain, sinus pressure, ear pain, runny nose, postnasal drip, sore throat, and nasal congestion.