Sinusitis (also called rhinosinusitis) is an inflammation of the sinuses, which are a series of paired nasal cavities above the eyes and around the nose that are normally filled with air. With inflammatory infection, however, the lining of the nasal cavities swell and can result in several symptoms that may need a healthcare professional to assist in curing. Sinusitis may be caused by viral infection, the most frequent cause, allergy or immune system disorders.
Some patients may present structural disorders in the sinuses that make sinusitis a chronic condition curable only by surgery. Smoking is also a noted cause and will exacerbate the condition making it difficult to cure the chronic sufferer. Sinusitis is a condition that affects about fifteen percent of the Australian population.
Initial symptoms are localised headaches above or behind the eyes, or around the nose. The headache may begin on one side and migrate to the other side; since the entire system of nasal cavities is ultimately a shared space of cavities and passageways through which the infection can progress over time. The patient will typically cause the pain to increase if bent over while standing or sitting, or if lying prone. This may be accompanied by loss of the sense of smell, congestion and coughing. If the symptoms are acute or chronic, the pain is eventually accompanied by nasal discharge that is thick, mucus-like and typically pale green in colour. This discharge will differentiate the initial headache as sinus-related rather than other types of headache.
Ear infection is also possible if the symptoms are not treated because the nasal cavities are also open to the Eustachian tubes connecting the throat, nasal cavities and ear canals. Finally, if allowed to progress without treatment, the eyes may become infected and temporary loss of sight may result. Fever, dental pain and bad breath may add to the symptoms. With the onset of symptoms, a good decongestant such as Sudafed and the addition of steam inhalation therapy may cure the conditions within the typical one to four week course of symptoms. Self-treatment with decongestant nasal drops and sprays should not exceed recommended treatment period, usually four to five days. If the duration of symptoms extends beyond this time, professional help should be sought.
If you have questions about sinusitis make an appointment to see our ear nose throat surgeon.