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Sinusitis - Symptom, Treatment And Causes

Last Updated: Oct 27, 2021

What is Sinusitis?

Swelling or inflammation of the tissue lining the sinuses is known as sinusitis. When the sinuses are healthy, they are filled with air. But when get filled with fluid and get blocked, the buildup of germs inside the sinuses can cause infection.

Sinuses are empty spaces in the skull that are linked to your nasal passages. When certain allergens produce swelling in the mucous membranes, it can block and cut off the sinuses. As a result of this, the pressure starts building inside them, and the air and mucus cannot release on its own.

These can lead to pain and pressure. If left untreated these can result in chronic symptoms and can cause long term damages to the sinus cavities. The most common condition that can cause sinus blockage is common cold and allergy agents .

Most of the people treat allergy passively and do not consider it as a critical condition. More people get accustomed to it, and they do not realize that their immune system plays a significant role in keeping the conditions at bay and the greater your age, the more these complications can get serious.

What are the types of sinus infections?

  • Acute sinusitis- which can start suddenly and last anywhere in between 2-4 days
  • Chronic inflamed sinusitis- which can last for more than 12 weeks
  • Recurrent sinusitis- which can happen several times in a year

What are the Symptoms and signs of sinus?

Some of the most common conditions that cause blockage inside the sinus are:

  • Swelling of the lining in the nose owing to allergic rhinitis
  • Development of nasal polyps, which are small growths in the lining inside the nose
  • A deviated septum, bringing about a change in the alignment of the nasal cavity
  • Stuffy-up or running nose
  • Loss of smell
  • A feeling of fullness or congestion in the face
  • In rare cases, pus inside the nasal cavity
  • Bad breath, fatigue and fever

Over-the-counter decongestants and sprays also help to temporarily alleviate the symptoms of this disease. For easing nose and sinus pain, a warm compress can be recommended to the patients.

Is Sinusitis the same as a Sinus infection?

Yes, Sinusitis is the same as a Sinus infection, which can be described as infectious swelling or inflammation in the air-filled pockets in the bone of the face which is often caused by viral or bacterial Sinus. This infection can fill the muscles with fluid that can be very uncomfortable. The infection can be seen in different facial muscles like:

  • Apples of your cheeks.
  • Bridge of your nose.
  • Forehead.
  • Muscles behind your eyes.

Can you smell a Sinus infection?

Prolong infection can cause inflammation and nasal congestion which can hinder a person's smelling abilities. The congested mucus can also lead to a bad smell in the nose and throat, bad breath and bitter or weird mouth feel due to the infectious discharge.

What are the causes of sinus?

Sinusitis is more likely to affect people who have swelling inside their nasal cavity, like the one that happens because of a common cold. Formation of nasal polyps blocked drainage duct inside the nose, and immune system deficiency or the medicines those that are prescribed to suppress our immune system are some of the other reasons that aggravate this disease.

For children, sinusitis can happen because of allergies, excessive use of pacifiers, drinking from the bottle while lying on the back or from smoke in the environment. For the diagnosis of this illness, the doctor may look at your symptoms and then perform a physical check. The doctor can feel and press the patient’s face to look for tenderness in the sinus area. The doctor can also tap your teeth with a clinical aid, to see if a sinus near your nose is creating the trouble.


How Sinusitis is Diagnosed?

Apart from this nasal endoscopy is also performed on the patient to see inside the patient’s nose and also to visualize the sinus drainage area. A nasal endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument that has a tiny light and a digital camera attached, which is passed inside the nasal cavity after application of local anesthesia to the patients.

For the treatment of sinusitis, your doctor can prescribe a decongestant along with saline nasal wash. Sometimes to cure the nasal infection, doctors prescribe antibiotics to the patients. As a home remedy, using a vaporizer can be really helpful at times, since warm and moist air help if you have chronic sinusitis.

What Happens if Sinusitis Isn’t Treated?

If sinusitis is not treated at the correct time then a person starts having discomfort and pain until the nose is not cleared completely. It can also lead to meningitis, brain abscess, or bone infection.

How do I know if my Sinus infection is bacterial or viral?

Both viral and bacterial Sinus infection infects the nasal cavities and lining of your facial muscles.

In case of occurrence, viral Sinus is common and when escalated causes the more severe and prolonged version of Sinusitis which is the bacterial one. They both are caused by upper respiratory infection, which initiates its infection through the nasal cavity to various facial muscles and respiratory systems.

How Sinus is treated?

As stated, most of the treatments for sinus allergies are OTC . These can be had in a tablet form or a spray form. The nasal sprays are the first line of defence in the treatment. These can be very beneficial in reducing the swelling in the nasal cavities. They are also the doctor’s choice as they can be used almost by anyone and can be used for milder to medium cases.

OTC medicines are the other source that can be tried for nasal allergies. Most of these medications concentrate on the cold rather than the allergy itself. These are once again used if the symptoms are mild. You can try them for a few days, and if the problems persist, it would be best to consult your physician.

An oral decongestant is another method that can bring you relief. However, make a note that you should not use them for more than three days at a time. It would be safe to consult your doctor before taking a decongestant.

Antihistamines- these medications work directly against the allergy symptoms are widely prescribed by the doctors. They help a lot in removing the cold symptoms like itching and coughing. If all the other medications do not work and if you are getting the reactions frequently, then your doctor might suggest going for sinus surgery to remove the blockages.

Who is eligible for the treatment?

Any individual who is having the nasal allergy and sinus symptoms can be entitled to the treatment. The medications and treatments are highly recommended the moment you notice the symptoms as delaying them can lead to other complications. Also more than the treatment you can consult with your doctor about the ways to avoid them in the first place.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

If you are allergic to antibiotics, do let your doctor know, so that an alternate form of medicines can be suggested for you. Also if you are a pregnant woman or if you are past 65 years of age do consult with your doctor about the type of medicines you should take as not all the drugs may be suitable for you. Also, do not use the nasal decongestants for more than three days at a time as they can lead to further complications.

What is the fastest way to get rid of a Sinus infection?

Apart from over the counter medication or the treatment, your doctor suggested to follow, here are some of the home remedies and therapies that can speed up your recovery:

  1. Consume food with antibacterial components: There are plenty of consumables that one can have to get relief from Sinusitis here are some of the food items that can benefit you:
    • Green tea
    • Honey
    • Ginger
    • Garlic
    • Onion
  2. Keep yourself moisturized: Nasal blockage caused by Sinusitis often makes your throat and nose uncomfortably dry. Here are some of the things that one can use to keep the moisture content of your respiratory system in balance:
    • Humidifier: Help you keep your atmosphere warm and moist.
    • Natural saline nasal sprays: Its direct application makes it more effective on the infection than any medication. It is advisable to take a nasal spray that does not contain oxymetazoline as it can be highly addictive.
    • Steam: A hot bath or exposure to steam can give you relief from irritating dryness.
  3. Eucalyptus oil: As mentioned earlier, the Sinus can make your respiratory tracts dry making the mucus more stiff and sticky to the skin. Eucalyptus oil contains cineole which adds up the moisture that your nasal needs in order to remove all the mucus. Add this in your diffuser or boiling water to inhale the essence with steam. You can also consume it directly with warm water, but it is advisable to use food-grade essential oils for that.
  4. Use a neti pot: Neti pot can be complicated to use at first, it is considered as one of the most effective ways to get rid of Sinusitis. Fill the pot with saline solution and insert the spout in one of the nostrils. Now tilt your head at a 45-degree angle so that saline solution can go through your nostril. Make sure to do that over drainage or sink to avoid the mess.
  5. Warm compression: Sinusitis can be painful for your nostrils as well as facial muscles. A warm towel or moist heat compress can do the trick.

What are the side effects of Sinus treatment?

Since antibiotics are used and since the very nature of the medical condition is because of an allergy, there can be some side effects. Do consult with your doctor about your body type and your health status and if you are undergoing any other treatment. Accordingly, the side effects can be avoided by using a different medicine altogether.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Post the treatment you would still be susceptible to the allergic reactions, and hence always you have to be careful about the allergens. You have to know what you are allergic to and the foods that are unsafe for you and stay away from them. If you are a frequent candidate for nasal congestions, you might have to shift to a place where the climate is warmer and dust free.

How long does it take to recover from sinusitis?

There is no standard recovery period, and it depends on how much you are affected by the allergic reactions. Sometimes if the condition is severe, you might be under medications for a longer period. It is always better to undergo these treatments at an earlier stage. In case you are undergoing sinus surgery, then the recovery period can take from a week to ten days.

How much does it cost for Sinus treatment in India?

In India, the treatments are mostly are of over the counter varieties and can include nasal decongestants, antibiotics, and medications. If you are undergoing the nasal surgery, then the cost depends on the type of clinic you are undergoing. Mostly they can start from INR 35,000 and can go up depending on the post-treatment procedures and medications.

How to cure sinus permanently?

There are numerous reasons why you could get sinus allergy, and unless you stay away from the harmful carcinogens, there are chances that you might get the infection again. A permanent solution is possible only when you realize your allergy factors and work towards eliminating them from your day to day lives.

What are the preventive measures to be taken for sinus?

These are the preventive measures that can be taken for sinus:

  • Irrigating the nose: If you suffer from sinus then you must keep your nose moist by using saline spray or washes.
  • Keeping a distance: One should keep a distance from the people who are sick and should wash hands frequently
  • Proper ventilation: The house must be properly ventilated on the days when there is less pollen content in the air. Stale air increases the problem of sinus.
  • Be hydrated: If you suffer from sinus then you must stay hydrated and drink at least 8-10 glasses of water per day. Fruit juice can also be tried as the liquid helps in thinning of the mucus. Alcohol and caffeine must be avoided as they dehydrate the body.
  • Energy conservation: Give your body proper rest and take at least 8 hours of sleep as sleeping makes the body recover fast.
  • No harsh fumes: Stay away from cigarettes and cigars as they produce the strong smell and be away from strong chemical odors as they can cause irritation and inflammation of the nasal passage.
  • Take care of allergies: If you are prone to allergies then stay away from the things that can trigger it. Take precautions and try to manage your allergy.

How long does Sinusitis last?

Defending upon the severity and the type Sinusitis can have different recovery periods:

  • Acute Sinusitis: Commonly seen during cold weather, it can get recovered between ten to 20 days post-infection.
  • Subacute Sinusitis: Also described as intermedia Sinusitis, it can last up to 1-3 months.
  • Chronic Sinusitis: Even though the condition is not common amongst its patients, it is not that rare in its occurrence. The lowest duration of chronic Sinusitis can be 3 months which can last for years. It is often followed by frequent acute Sinusitis attacks.

What not to eat when you have Sinus?

Here are some of the products that may worsen your Sinusitis:

  • Dairy and its byproducts like curd, cheese, butter, buttermilk, etc.
  • Refined sugar
  • Gluten
  • Chocolate
  • Tomatoes
  • Bananas

Which fruit is good for Sinus?

In the case of Sinusitis, fruits enriched in Zinc and vitamin C, E, and A can help you build your immunity.

vitamin A will help you maintain the mucous membranes, while vitamin C and E will fight the exciting infection and prevent your body from further damage. Zinc on the other hand will reduce the risk of infection by giving a boost to your immunity system. Here is a list of fruits that one can eat to fulfill the nutrition:

  • Apricots
  • Mangoes
  • Cantaloupe
  • Strawberries
  • Winter squash

Is turmeric good for Sinusitis?

Curcumin or turmeric is known for its antibacterial properties which can be beneficial for Sinusitis infection, it also acts as anti-inflammatory property that will help you with the swelling and inflammation caused by the infection.

Home remedies for sinusitis:

These are the home remedies for sinus:

  • Saline nasal spray: The use of saline nasal spray helps in removing the congestion. A saline solution can also be made at home. Sniff nasal spray from one nostril at a time and it helps to clear a blocked nose.
  • Neti pot: It used to rinse the nose and it helps in making the mucous membrane moist and also helps in releasing the pressure. In this water run out from one nostril to another thus flushes out bacteria, pollens, and all the dirt from the nose.
  • Steam inhalation: This is one of the easiest processes that you can do at the time of sinus and helps in opening blocked nose and also gives relief from sinus pressure.
  • Hydration: Keeping the body hydrated is one of the most important things that should be done at the time of any disease. Being hydrated at the time of sinus helps to make the mucous membrane moist.
  • Essential oils: Oils from plants such as eucalyptus, cineole helps at the time of sinus. Menthol can also be used for opening the nasal passage. You can pour a few drops of warm oil or water into the nostrils to open the passage.
  • Rest and relax: One must give proper rest to the body during sinus.
  • Chicken soup: It helps in opening up of the nostrils and is used as a remedy since ages. Chicken soup also reduces inflammation at the time of sinus.

What are the alternatives to sinus treatment?

As an alternative treatment, you can opt for herbal remedies and home remedies to be in your comfort zone. You can take steam inhalation regularly, and you can try deep breathing exercises. Also, ensure that you change your dietary patterns and stay away from foods that can cause you cold and allergic reactions.

Summary: Sinusitis can be described as infectious swelling or inflammation in the air-filled pockets in the bone of the face which is often caused by viral or bacterial Sinus. It is easy to treat with the help of some home remedies and basic medical help.

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Written ByDr. Anjan Jyoti BhuyanMS - ENTEar-Nose-Throat (ENT)
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