Sinusitis

What is sinusitis?

Sinuses are air-filled spaces in the bone behind the cheeks and forehead. Sinusitis is an inflammation or infection of the sinuses, most often following a cold.

 

What can cause sinusitis?

The most common cause occurs following a cold. But other causes include smoking, allergies, polyps (growths of tissue that can block the sinus passage), and overuse of nasal decongestants.

 

What are some of the symptoms of sinusitis?

Symptoms of sinus infection include facial pain, headache, fever, stuffy nose, coughing, upper-tooth pain, and thick green or yellow nasal mucus. Sinusitis caused by bacteria may need treatment with an antibiotic.

 

How can I treat sinusitis at home?

You need to get plenty of rest, and drink plenty of fluids. You can apply a warm, wet towel to your face, or breathe in steam from a hot bath or shower or take Tylenol® or Advil® for pain. You should avoid using nasal spray decongestants for more than two to three days, as they can make sinus congestion worse with repeated use. You could try nonprescription cold medicines if your physician feels it is safe for you. Some cold medicines can worsen chronic health problems, such as high blood pressure. You need to rinse your sinus passages with an over-the-counter saline solution and you should follow your physician’s instructions and take the entire course of medication if he or she prescribes an antibiotic.

 

When should I seek Professional Care?

You should seek medical attention if you have a headache more severe than a "normal" headache, if your sinus pain worsens or you develop high fever, if you develop green or yellow nasal drainage associated with fever and facial pain, or if you have a history of nasal polyps or severe sinus infections.

 

How can I prevent sinusitis?

Some ways to prevent sinusitis is to avoid smoking. Tobacco smoke can paralyze tiny hairs called cilia that help clear the sinuses of bacteria and other particles. You should avoid any substances that irritate your allergies and treat nasal congestion early if you have a cold.