The sinuses are air chambers behind the bones of the upper face, and are located between the eyes and behind the forehead, nose and cheeks. Each of the four pairs of sinuses are described as a unit and termed as the “paranasal sinuses”. These four units include frontal sinus (in the forehead), maxillary sinus (behind the cheeks bones), ethmoid sinus (between the eyes), sphenoid sinus (deep behind the ethmoids). The sinus has openings that allows mucous to drain and essentially keep your sinuses clear. A sinus infection occurs when a pathogenic microorganism (virus, bacterium, or a fungus) grows within a sinus area and causes a blockage. This is known as sinusitis or rhinosinusitis, which results in inflammation of the mucous membrane that lines the paranasal sinuses.
The main functions of sinuses is to humidify and warm the incoming air, insulating the surrounding structures (eyes, nerves), increases voice resistance and buffer against facial trauma.
Sinusitis is a major health conditions which affects over 30 million people each year. Sinusitis is a condition in which the lining of the sinuses become inflamed and causes swelling in the sinuses, which prevents the tiny nose hairs to remove mucus. This can occur due to environmental pollens irritating the nasal passages, temperature change, smoking, swimming or diving or as a result of the use or abuse of irritants such as nasal sprays or illegal substances.
Types of Sinusitis
There are three types of sinusitis.
- Acute sinusitis (acute rhinosinusitis): a temporary condition that is usually caused by a viral infection and has cold like symptoms that do not go away after 7-10 days. Acute sinusitis clear up in a week or could last up to four weeks. If the problem is due to a bacterial infection it is less likely to clear up on its own and you will probably have to consult a health care provider.
- Recurrent acute sinusitis: four or more episodes of acute sinusitis within a year.
- Chronic sinusitis (chronic rhinosinusitis): symptoms are similar to acute sinusitis with the exception that the symptoms normally last over 12 weeks with numerous treatment attempts and often are recurrent. Long term sinusitis is caused by bacterial or fungal infection and is often difficult to treat. Chronic sinusitis may lead to permanent changes in the mucus membranes that line the sinus and can cause a person to become more prone to frequent sinus infections. Opposite of acute sinusitis are people who suffer from chronic sinusitis and may also suffer with significant fatigue.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms of sinusitis may include:
- Facial pain, pressure, congestion or fullness, especially when leaning forward
- Thick green or yellow drainage from nasal area to the back of the throat
- Nasal obstruction or congestion that causes difficulty breathing through your nose.
* Reduced sense of smell or taste
- Bad breath
- Cough producing mucus that worsens at night
- Tooth pain
- Sore throat
- Ear Pain
Sinusitis in Children
Environmental factors can contribute to sinusitis in children, such as allergies or diseases transferred at school or daycare facilities. Sinusitis can also be caused due to children exposed to a smoking environment.
Signs and symptom of sinusitis in children are:
- Nasal drainage lasting more than 7 to 10 days
- Persistent cough
- Headache or facial pain
- Frequent ear infections in children over the age of 2
Surgery isn't your only option for chronic sinusitis. During your medical exam, our providers will discuss all treatment options with you and assist you in selecting the right treatment plan for you. These treatment plans could include but are not limited to:
- Medical Therapy which could include antibiotics and/or nasal sprays.
- Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (ESS) which is a procedure used to remove blockages in sinuses.
- Traditional Sinus surgery