Conditions We Treat: Sinusitis

You don’t have to suffer the symptoms of chronic sinusitis, which can get in the way of everyday life. Learn more about this common condition and how the expert team at ENT, Sinus & Hearing Care Center can help.

 

What Is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis, a treatable condition, is an inflammation of the sinuses — air-filled pockets near the nasal passage — that prevents drainage from occurring properly.

There are three types of sinusitis:

  • Acute sinusitis, which occurs quickly and improves with the appropriate treatment
  • Sub-acute sinusitis, which may not improve with treatment initially but lasts less than three months
  • Chronic sinusitis, which occurs with repeated acute infections or previous infections that were inadequately treated — and symptoms last longer than three months

 
A diagram of a woman's inflamed sinuses due to sinusitis

 

What Causes Sinusitis?

Sinus infection often happens after an upper respiratory infection (URI) or common cold. The URI causes inflammation of the nasal passages that can block the opening of the paranasal sinuses and result in a sinus infection. Allergies also can lead to sinusitis because of the swelling of the nasal tissue and increased production of mucus.

In addition, the following conditions can block the normal flow of secretions out of the sinuses and lead to sinusitis:

  • Abnormalities in the structure of the nose
  • Enlarged adenoids
  • Diving and swimming
  • Infections from a tooth
  • Trauma to the nose
  • Foreign objects stuck in the nose
  • Cleft palate

When the flow of secretions from the sinuses is blocked, bacteria may begin to grow. This leads to a sinus infection or sinusitis. The most common bacteria that cause sinusitis include:

  • Streptococcus pneumonia
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Moraxella catarrhalis

 

What Are Symptoms of Sinusitis?

Sinusitis symptoms can vary per individual, depending on the person’s age and other factors.

In younger children, the most common symptoms include:

  • Runny nose that lasts longer than seven to 10 days
  • Nasal discharge that’s usually thick green or yellow but can be clear
  • Nighttime cough
  • Occasional daytime cough
  • Swelling around the eyes

In older children and adults:

  • Runny nose or cold symptoms lasting longer than seven to 10 days
  • Drip from the nose to the back of the throat
  • Headaches
  • Facial discomfort
  • Bad breath
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Swelling around the eyes, often worse in the morning

 

How Is Sinusitis Diagnosed?

Our ear, nose, and throat expert, Dr. Daniel S. Samadi, starts with a complete medical history and physical examination. Additional diagnostic procedures may include:

  • Cultures from the nose or sinus fluid, laboratory tests that involve the growing of bacteria or other microorganisms to aid in diagnosis
  • Sinus X-rays
  • Blood tests
  • Computed tomography — also called “CT” or “CAT scan” — a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays to produce horizontal and vertical slices of the body. CT scans, more detailed than general X-rays, show detailed images of any part of the body, including bones, muscle, fat, and organs.

 

How Is Sinusitis Treated?

There is a range of potential treatment options for sinusitis, depending on the cause, severity, accompanying symptoms, and the person’s age and general health.

Products such as nasal sprays, over-the-counter decongestants, and pain relievers may help relieve symptoms of acute sinusitis, which often goes away on its own. Chronic sinusitis, however, may require additional treatment such as antibacterial or antifungal medication, or allergen immunotherapy.

In some cases of chronic sinusitis, surgery may be the most effective solution. The procedure, typically performed on an outpatient basis, involves inserting an endoscope — a tube with an attached camera and light — into the nose to see the sinuses. Small surgical instruments are then used to remove polyps or other obstructions blocking the sinus and nasal passageways.

An exciting newer advance in sinus procedures is image guidance surgery, which allows otolaryngologists to perform difficult sinus surgeries with minimal invasiveness and blood loss. Specialized CT imaging visualizes the internal sinus structures and monitors the positioning of surgical instruments within these structures.

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of sinusitis, relief is available. Our sinus expert can talk with you about your symptoms, perform a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, and work with you to determine the best solution for your specific needs. So don’t wait. Contact ENT, Sinus & Hearing Care Center to schedule an appointment today. We’re here to help!

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