Patient's Complete Guide to Sinus Infection (Sinititis)

Overview of Sinus Infection (Sinititis)

Sinusitis also known as sinus infection (sozzaish/سوزش) is an inflammation or swelling of the sinus tissues that affect the nose, head, and mouth. Initially, sinuses are formed of air-filled bubbles but as they become blocked with infectious bacterial fluid that grows and causes infection.

Sinus blockage is caused during these conditions:

  • Common cold
  • Allergic rhinitis, swelling of the nose lining caused by allergens
  • Nasal polyps-small growths appear in the nose lining
  • A deviated septum- It is the nasal cavity lining that blocks with bacterial microbes

Prevalence of Sinusitis in Global Population

CDC report reveals that 28.9 million i.e. about 11.2% of people aged 18 years or above have been affected by sinusitis globally.

Signs and Symptoms of Sinus Infection (Sinititis)

The symptoms of sinus infection are based on its types of infection.

  • Acute Sinus Infection Symptoms

The common signs and symptoms for acute sinusitis are:

  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of smell sense
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Breathing problems
  • Fatigue
  • Dental pain

If a person is showing two or more symptoms or leakage of thick green or yellow nasal discharge, then it may be acute sinusitis.

  • Chronic Sinus Infection Symptoms

In the case of chronic sinus, the symptoms appear after more than 12 weeks.

  • A feeling of congestion or fullness in your face
  • A nasal obstruction 
  • Pus in the nasal cavity
  • Fever
  • Runny nose or discoloured postnasal drainage
  • Headaches
  • Tooth pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Feeling tired

 

Types of Sinus Infection (Sinititis)

Based on the severity of sinus, it is divided into the following four types:

  • Acute Sinusitis: Caused by cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, facial pain, etc. The duration of acute sinusitis may last for 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Subacute Sinusitis: Having the same symptoms as acute sinusitis but only vary in its duration. Typically lasts 4 to 12 weeks.
  • Chronic Sinusitis: Takes place when the nose and head (sinuses) spaces become swollen and inflamed for three months or longer.
  • Recurrent Sinusitis: Occurs several times a year.

 

 

Causes of Sinus Infection (Sinititis)

The causes of sinus infection are determined on the basis of the types and the factors associated with sinusitis.

  • Acute Sinus Infection Causes

It is a viral infection, caused by the common cold but in some cases, it can be a bacterial infection.

  • Chronic Sinusitis Causes

There are various causes of chronic sinus which are:

  • Nasal Polyps: Blockage of nasal passages or sinuses due to tissue growth.
  • Deviated Nasal Septum: It blocks the wall between the nostrils or sinus passages and makes the sinusitis symptoms worse.
  • Medical Conditions: Such as cystic fibrosis, HIV, and other immune system-related diseases that can lead to nasal blockage.
  • Respiratory Tract Infections: These infections initiate from the common cold. As it prolongs, it may cause inflammation and thickening of the sinus membrane, which blocks the mucus drainage. It can be viral, bacterial, or fungal.
  • Allergies: Inflammation occurs due to allergies that also can block the sinuses like hay fever.

Risk Factors of Sinus Infection (Sinititis)

When an individual experiences the following conditions, he/she may be at risk of catching sinusitis.

  • Hay fever or any allergic condition
  • Nasal passage problems, such as a deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps or tumours
  • A medical condition such as cystic fibrosis or an immune system disorder, HIV/AIDS
  • Tobacco smoking exposure may have a chance of sinusitis

Health Complications of Sinus Infection

You need to get medical help if your sinus infection gets worse with time. Sinus infection can cause many health complications, such as:

  • Meningitis
  • Brain abscess
  • Bone infection
  • Infection of the eye (surrounding tissue)
  • Sinus cavity blood clot

 

Prevention

You can prevent or reduce the risk of sinus by adopting the following steps:

  • Stay away from the ill people.
  • Wash your hands properly with soap and water, especially before your meals.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Do not inhale irritant pollutants that can inflame or irritate the lungs and nasal passages.
  • Use a humidifier to moist the air that helps to prevent sinus infection. 

If you are allergic to any object, maintain its symptoms. Make sure that you avoid the nasal irritants that can worsen your infection and stay away from smoke and pollution. Saline sinus wash can also lower the risk of sinus infection.

Diagnosis

Your ENT specialist doctor will carry out the physical examination of the nose, mouth, and head to check the tenderness and state of infection.

Secondly, other techniques are equally available that might be used to diagnose acute or chronic sinusitis and rule out other conditions. These diagnostic methods include:

  • Nasal Endoscopy: It is an endoscope tube (thin, flexible tube with a fibre-optic light) inserted through your nose for visual inspection. A healthcare professional will view the nose sinuses from the inside.
  • Imaging Studies: CT scan might help to view a detailed image of a patient's sinuses and nasal area. It is normally used for chronic sinusitis.
  • Nasal and Sinus Samples: This test is performed to detect the cause of sinus infection whether it is bacterial, fungal, or viral. Firstly, the doctors will obtain the tissue sample from the nose or sinuses and analyze it properly. This will help them out to determine the main cause of infection. It is broadly used for chronic sinusitis when treatment doesn't work properly.
  • Allergy Skin Test: It is recommended for acute or chronic sinusitis when sinus infection stimulates due to allergies. It is a quick and safer test and can easily pinpoint the allergen.

Treatment of Sinus Infection (Sinititis) | When to Consult a Doctor

Based on the severity of the sinus, it can be treated in various ways. Let’s have a look.

  • Home Remedies

Some home remedies beneficial for the prevention of sinus infections are: 

  • Humidifier: Place it in a room for cleaning the air. It will help you in easing sinus pain.
  • Steam Vapours Inhalation: Steam therapy helps in soothing sinus pain. Steam nasal therapy helps to open up the congested and swollen nasal passages.  
  • Warm Towel Usage: Placing a warm wet towel on the face helps in relieving the pressure from the face.
  • Nasal Saline Solution: Use saltwater to keep the nasal passage moist. You can use salt water for nasal irrigation, which helps to clear out the mucus and make your sinuses moist.
  • Drink lots of Fluids: Keep yourself hydrated. It helps to reduce sinuses blockage.
  • Rest: Proper rest is necessary for your recovery. Taking proper sleep helps our body to recover from illness. It helps boost our immune system.
  • Medications for Acute Sinus Infection

A healthcare professional may recommend medication as the first line of treatment that helps to relieve the sinusitis symptoms. It includes:

  • Saline Nasal Spray: It is used for opening up the nasal passages, several times a day.
  • Nasal Corticosteroids: These corticosteroid nasal sprays are used to prevent and treat inflammation for acute or chronic conditions. Examples include:
  • Fluticasone (Flonase Allergy Relief, Flonase Sensimist Allergy Relief, others)
  • Budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy)
  • Mometasone (Nasonex) 
  • Beclomethasone (Beconase AQ, Qnasl, others)
  • Decongestants: Mostly available as over-the-counter (OTC) drugs in the form of prescription liquids, tablets, and nasal sprays. It is used for a few days, depending upon the condition. Other OTC pain relievers are:
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) 
  • Aspirin

An individual should use these medications with caution particularly in the case of children or teenagers. Aspirin is not good for children or teenagers who are recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms. It may cause Reye's syndrome, a rare and fatal condition.

  • Medications for Chronic Sinusitis

  • Saline Nasal Irrigation with Nasal Sprays or Solutions: Helps to reduce blockage and remove irritants and allergies from nasal walls.
  • Oral or Injected Corticosteroids: To treat the inflammation of severe sinus infection especially in nasal polyps. Oral corticosteroids are consumed to relieve its symptoms but can cause serious side effects for prolonged usage.
  • Aspirin Desensitization Treatment: If an individual undergoes reactions to aspirin that cause sinusitis. Under medical supervision, larger doses of aspirin are to be given to the patients for enhancing tolerance.
  • Antibiotics

Most antibiotics are prescribed in case of chronic sinus infection. But, if the acute infection is bacterial then a doctor may recommend antibiotics to combat the infection.

However, severe, progressive, or persistent symptoms might require antibiotics. Symptoms may recur if the patients don’t complete the specific course of antibiotics.

(Note: Take medications only after it is prescribed by your doctor)

  • Immunotherapy

It is opted in acute or chronic conditions. If allergies are causing sinusitis, immunotherapy is implemented that helps to reduce the body's reaction to specific allergens that might improve the condition.

  • Surgery

When an individual becomes resistant to treatment or medication, endoscopic sinus surgery might be another treatment of choice. During this procedure, the doctor will handle the endoscope (a thin, flexible tube with an attached light) to check the sinus passages.

Depending on the source of the blockage, the doctor might use various instruments to remove tissue or a polyp that's causing the nasal blockage. Enlargement of a narrow sinus opening may promote drainage.

Speciality for Sinus Infection (Sinititis)

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