North Hills ENT

Sinus

Every year thousands of people flock to drug stores and department store pharmacies, to stand in front of numerous products trying to figure out what sinus medication they should buy. Many people often mistake a sinus problem with a cold or symptoms of allergies. Because these conditions often mimic each other, it is best to visit an ear, nose, and throat specialist if you are prone to sinus infections.

Four Types of Sinus Cavities

The term “sinuses” actually refers to the sinus cavities. These facial sections are made up of four sets, all of which are called “sinus cavities.” The largest of the four sets of sinuses are the maxillary sinuses located in your cheekbones. There is a right and left maxillary sinus.  

The second set of your sinuses are the frontal sinuses. This region is located on your forehead just above the inner corner extending to about the middle your eyebrows. The frontal sinuses also consist of two parts - one above each inner eyebrow. The third set of your sinuses are the ethmoid sinuses, which are located between your eyes in the area most people call the nasal bridge.

The fourth and last set of the sinuses are the sphenoid sinuses, and these are located near the bones of your skull behind ethmoid sinuses.

Symptoms and Signs

If you have problems with your sinuses, you could have a number of primary symptoms, as well as signs of a secondary infection or health problem. Some of the symptoms and signs of sinus include:

  • Headache
  • Pressure around your nose
  • Pain above your eyebrows or behind your cheeks
  • Stuffy nose
  • Fever
  • Reduced or lose of smell and taste
  • Bad breath
  • Cough that produces mucus

Causes and Concerns

Your sinuses are lined with mucosa, which is a soft, pink tissue. When the sinuses are healthy, there is a very thin layer of mucus present. Also, the sinuses are separated by a thin wall in the center of the nose, called the “nasal septum.” This structure separates the airways in the nose, which divides the nose into two nostrils.  

A few diseases and conditions that are associated with the sinuses include:

  • Sinusitis (sinus infection caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungus)
  • Nasal polyps

Sinusitis can be either acute or chronic. The acute form lasts only a short time and generally resolves spontaneously. Chronic sinusitis is recurring, problematic, and distressing. Both forms of sinusitis are cause by three different pathogens:  bacteria, fungi, and viruses. To diagnose sinusitis, the sinus specialist will take a medical history and perform a physical examination. He may need to take an X-ray of your sinuses.

Solutions and Options

Treatment for viral sinusitis is different than the treatment of the bacterial form. Sinusitis caused by viruses usually runs its course within 10 to 14 days. Many people find relief with over the counter sinus medications, such as decongestants, saline nasal spray, and pain relievers. We advise that you drink lots of fluids (preferably water) and use saltwater nasal drops. Also, you can apply a warm, damp cloth to reduce pain and swelling. Some people use steam from the shower or other source to help loosen the mucus.

For bacterial sinusitis, we recommend that you be evaluated for treatment. Your antibiotic therapy will depend on your age, your unique condition, the extent of your infection, and your health condition. Also, this form of sinusitis responds to the same conventional treatment measures as the viral form. However, fungal sinusitis is a rare condition that is treated differently from the other two forms of sinusitis. Many times, patients with fungal sinusitis require steroid therapy or even surgery.

  1. Many people suffer from recurring, chronic sinusitis due to allergies. If your sinus specialist feels that your chronic sinusitis is caused from allergies, then prescription medication or allergy shots could help. If you have returning episodes of sinusitis symptoms, you could have chronic sinusitis. It is important that you come in for an evaluation, as this type of the disease requires specialized treatment.

Summary

Nearly everyone experiences problems with the sinuses, and viral and bacterial sinus infections are common. Sinusitis can be painful, annoying, and problematic. Now that you understand the condition of sinusitis and the associated symptoms, call to make an appointment so you can get proper treatment and start feeling better.

Call us at 817-595-3700 to schedule an appointment.

Additional Readings

http://www.entnet.org/healthinformation/

http://www.emedicinehealth.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=130216