Sinusitis, also known as a sinus infection, is a common condition that occurs when the nasal passages become inflamed and swollen. This can cause a variety of symptoms, including nasal congestion, facial pain, and difficulty breathing.
Understanding the causes
There are several different causes of sinusitis, including:
- Viral infections : The common cold is the most common cause of sinusitis. When a cold virus infects the nasal passages, it can cause inflammation and swelling, which can lead to sinusitis.
- Bacterial infections : Bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis can also cause sinusitis. These bacteria can infect the nasal passages, leading to inflammation and swelling.
- Allergic reactions : Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is a common cause of sinusitis. Allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander can cause inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages, leading to sinusitis.
- Structural problems : Some people may have structural problems in their nasal passages that make them more susceptible to sinusitis. For example, a deviated septum or nasal polyps can block the nasal passages and make it difficult for mucus to drain, leading to sinusitis.
- Environnemental factors : Exposure to cigarette smoke, pollution, and other environmental irritants can also cause sinusitis. These irritants can cause inflammation and swelling in the nasal passages, leading to sinusitis.
- Other factors : Sinusitis can also be caused by other factors such as changes in weather, hormonal changes during pregnancy, and certain medications such as birth control pills and blood pressure medications.
Preventing sinusitis can be difficult, but certain steps can be taken to reduce the risk of developing the condition, including:
- Practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Keep your nasal passages moist by using a humidifier or by breathing in steam from a hot shower
- Avoid irritants such as smoke and pollution
- Manage conditions that increase your risk of sinusitis, such as allergies and asthma
When to consult ?
It becomes important to consult a doctor in the following conditions :
- If your symptoms have lasted for more than 10-14 days
- If your symptoms are severe or getting worse
- If you have a fever, severe headache or facial pain
- If your symptoms are interfering with your daily activities
- If you have a weakened immune system
Treatment for a sinus infection usually begins with self-care measures such as nasal irrigation with saline solution, over-the-counter pain relievers, and decongestants.
If these measures do not provide relief, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics for a bacterial infection or a corticosteroid nasal spray for inflammation. Allergic rhinitis can be treated with antihistamines and nasal corticosteroids.
If self-care measures and medications do not improve your symptoms, a doctor may recommend additional treatments such as nasal endoscopy, where a small camera is inserted into the nose to examine the sinuses, or sinus surgery to open blocked sinus passages.