Sinusitis arises when the tissue lining the sinuses swell up and become inflamed—the condition results as an inflammatory reaction to an infection from bacteria, fungus, or a virus. If you feel immense pressure and pain behind your eyes, you could be suffering from sinusitis.
Sinuses are the pathways that lie behind the eyes, forehead, and cheeks. They are lined with mucus membranes, which produce mucus or snot.
What Causes Sinusitis
If we have an allergy, a cold, or any condition that prevents the little hairs in our sinuses from sweeping out mucus, the extra mucus can block them. Hence, germs and bacteria start growing inside the sinuses and lead to pressure and pain. If symptoms subside within a month, you are lucky to have short-term or acute sinusitis.
However, if the symptoms do not subside within three months or longer, you are experiencing chronic sinusitis. If you don’t consult a professional ENT doctor, your symptoms may get worse.
Your doctor will examine your nose by tapping over the affected area or shining a light against your sinuses. If the diagnosis isn’t clear, you may require an MRI or x-ray. In some cases, doctors also recommend a CT scan.
Healthy sinuses contain no germs or bacteria. Hence, mucus easily drains out, and air flows freely through the sinuses. When too much mucus builds up, the sinus openings get blocked, and these areas become a breeding ground for bacteria and germs.
Here are some of the conditions that cause sinusitis.
- Allergies and colds result in too much mucus that blocks the openings of the sinuses
- Cilia or small hairs in the sinuses do not properly move mucus out
- Nasal polyps or a deviated nasal septum may block the sinuses
Here are some factors that increase the risk of developing sinusitis.
- Hay fever or allergic rhinitis
- Any diseases that prevent the proper functioning of cilia
- Cystic fibrosis
- Scuba diving or flying
- Weakened immunity
- Abnormal sinus structures
Here are some of the most common symptoms of acute sinusitis that an adult or child may experience if he is suffering from sinusitis.
- Loss of smell or bad breath
- Build-up of pressure and pain behind the eyes
- Tenderness of the face
- Nasal discharge or stuffiness
- Sore throat
While the symptoms of chronic and acute sinusitis are the same, if the symptoms last longer than twelve weeks, they indicate chronic sinusitis.
Here are some symptoms that indicate the presence of sinusitis in children.
- Respiratory illness or cold that gets better but then becomes worse
- Darkened nasal discharge and fever that lasts for at least three to four days
- Persistent cough with nasal discharge
Tests and Exams
When no over-the-counter medications seem to relieve the inflammation and pain you experience for a few weeks, it’s time to consult an ENT specialist who will perform an examination. Your doctor may also require any of the following imaging tests.
- X-rays: for diagnosing sinusitis
- CT scan: for a closer inspection of the tissues and bones of the sinuses
- MRI: to determine whether there is a fungal infection or a tumor in the sinuses
The doctor may also view sinuses utilizing a fiberoptic scope, also called rhinoscopy or nasal endoscopy. An ENT specialist can perform this process to inspect and diagnose the condition.
Some other tests include:
- Nasal culture
- Ciliary function test
- Allergy testing
- Blood tests for HIV
- Sweat chloride tests for cystic fibrosis
While you can cure a sinus infection using over-the-counter medicines and self-care measures, consulting an experienced and professional ENT specialist is the best option in case you have repeated attacks. An ENT doctor will check your symptoms and also inspect for nasal polyps or any allergies that are flaring up your sinuses.
The doctor will prescribe a few antibiotics and nasal saline rinses, and there is a good chance that the infection will go away on its own. Other treatments include antibiotics, nasal decongestant sprays, and pain relievers or using heating pads. However, if you don’t feel any improvement in your symptoms, your doctor may recommend sinus surgery as a last resort.
Possible Complications of Sinusitis
These complications are rare but can occur if you don’t seek treatment for chronic sinusitis.
- Bone infection abscess
- Orbital cellulitis
Schedule an appointment with an ENT specialist doctor if you frequently have congestion, nasal discharge, facial pain, or stuffy nose. Although fever is not a typical symptom, it can indicate a sinus infection. If you want to know more about how an ENT specialist can help you detect and treat sinusitis, get in touch with the best ear, nose, and throat specialist in NYC. Contact Michael Burnett, MD, PLLC. today. Dr. Burnett and his trained staff provide the latest treatments for acute and chronic sinus infections.
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