Sinusitis is a common condition characterized by inflamed sinuses. An estimated 37 million Americans suffer from this affliction of the sinus cavities that causes excess mucus production and cold-like symptoms.
Types and Causes of Sinusitis
Sinusitis is classified by type depending on the duration and frequency of occurrence. Acute sinusitis lasts 4 weeks or less, while subacute sinusitis can last from 4 to 12 weeks. Chronic sinusitis lasts longer than 12 weeks and can persist indefinitely – sometimes for years!
Acute sinusitis may begin as a cold or allergy attack that causes inflammation of the sinuses, preventing them from draining properly. This causes fluid and germs to build up, and can lead to infection. Other causes of sinusitis include nasal polyps, deviated septum, facial trauma and certain immune system diseases.
Symptoms of sinusitis include runny and congested nose, postnasal drip, facial pain and swelling, sore throat, fever, fatigue, headache, loss of smell and taste, and bad breath.
If untreated or chronic, sinusitis can cause permanent damage to the sinuses. In rare cases, serious complications such as asthma, meningitis, vision problems, aneurysms and stroke can occur.
Many cases of acute sinusitis can be treated with a combination of home therapies and over-the-counter medications. Saline nasal sprays may be effective at removing mucus and relieving congestion. Keeping hydrated will help moisten the mucus membranes and prevent dehydration. Running a humidifier or inhaling steam by closing the bathroom door and running a hot shower often prove helpful, as well. Decongestants and pain relievers can be used as needed.
If the condition persists or is deemed chronic, antibiotics or nasal corticosteroids are given to help alleviate symptoms. If these do not work, surgery may be an option – either a conventional endoscopic sinus procedure or balloon sinuplasty.