Sinusitis is an inflammation or infection of the nasal sinuses. We also call sinusitis, rhinosinusitis. The sinuses are the hollow cavities in the skull. You will find them in the cheeks, behind and between the eyes and the forehead. Sinusitis can be short term and caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Sinusitis can also be fungal or allergy related. Sometimes sinusitis can be long term, or what we call chronic, which can be complicated by untreated allergies or polyps or even over use of nasal decongestant sprays.
Often when you have a cold, bacteria or viruses multiply and can infect the sinuses. The body’s reaction to the infection is to cause the sinuses to become inflamed and swell, which then does not allow the sinuses to drain normally. Pus and mucous then fill the nose and the sinus cavities.
Acute sinusitis is diagnosed when you have had symptoms that last up to 4 weeks. It can be either bacterial or viral. Allergies can also provoke the symptoms further.
Some of the symptoms that you may have with acute sinusitis are that the mucous that you produce is not clear, but rather it is cloudy or coloured. You will also have a blocked nose that feels stuffy and congested, and, or, a feeling of pressure or fullness in the face, head or around the eyes. This can be quite painful.
You can tell if your acute sinusitis is more likely to be caused by a virus if you have been sick for less than 10 days and you are not getting worse. It is likely to be acute bacterial sinusitis when you do not improve within 10 days, or it starts to get better but then worsens again.
It is important to know what the cause of your sinusitis is because that will determine the treatment that is needed. Acute viral sinusitis will not respond to antibiotics. But pain relief can help as well as steroid based nasal sprays or using a solution of salt water to irrigate the nose.
These treatments are also needed to treat acute bacterial sinusitis but an antibiotic may also be required.
Chronic sinusitis is when your sinusitis lasts for a longer period of time usually for up to 12 weeks or longer. Chronic sinusitis is usually caused by prolonged inflammation. However, infection can be a part of chronic sinusitis at times, especially when it worsens, but is not usually the main cause.
We can offer an in-house allergy screening that can help with your diagnosis. Other factors can be asthma, nasal polyps and even food intolerances. We can guide you through the process of determining what foods may be a problem for you.
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
Surgery is needed at times. The most common type of surgery for the sinuses is called endoscopic sinus surgery. An endoscope that is pencil sized is used to see inside the nose and sinuses and guide the surgery. The purpose of this surgery is to widen the drainage pathways between the sinuses and the nose. This allows mucous to drain and for the air to get in.