Commonly, types of sinusitis are determined by their duration of illness. Acute sinusitis refers to an infection that does not exceed 4 weeks period while subacute timing ranging from one to three months. If it prolongs for more than 12 weeks then it is considered as a chronic episode and should one is affected with more than three episodes per year, recurrent acute sinusitis is the correct term. However, further classification can be made but before delving deeper into that, we should be well-versed with the definition of sinusitis first.
Sinuses are air pockets that can be found around your nose and eyes. The function has yet to be established but their walls or linings are responsible for the production of mucus, which plays a pivotal role in trapping foreign objects entering the nasal cavity apart from aiding the fights against infections. So, sinusitis is the inflammation of the sinuses and it occurs as a result of the blockage to the sinuses’ openings. Myriads of factors can be responsible for the blockage and these include colds, upper respiratory infections, allergic rhinitis, anatomical issues (nose’s septum deviation), air pollution, cigarette smoke, cocaine use, exposure to high or low altitudes, diabetes, and state of immune deficiencies.
Most of the healthcare professionals nowadays prefer the term rhinosinusitis over sinusitis. This is because for the inflammation at the sinuses to happen, majority of the time the nasal cavity will also be affected at the same period of time hence the addition of the word ‘rhino’, which is an equivalent of the nose.
For a lot of people who are bothered by this condition, the usual triggers are the infection by either virus or bacteria. The latter would cause more problems to the patients as it has the potential to spread beyond the sinuses and entering the central nervous system, orbit (around the eye) or the other surrounding tissues. The recovery will be delayed for more than 10 days and may also be associated with severe and persistent headache, swelling around the eyes, visual disturbances, abnormal eye movements, eye pain and even problems to the cranial nerves. Prompt attention by the doctors is warranted in this case as soon as possible.
Have we reached the era when we can completely get rid of this problem? Unfortunately, we are not quite there. Nevertheless, the power to control the attack lies in our hands and the course of the illness itself. Acute sinusitis of viral origin is self-limiting, but you can choose to go for therapies to provide relief. One of the easiest options is to get adequate rest. You can try to apply wet and warm towel around your face area. To remove the extra mucus, rinse inside the nose with home-made salt water or use nasal saline spray which works pretty much the same. Home-made salt water is prepared by adding a quarter teaspoon of table salt into one cup of warm water. Once mixed, squirt the solution into each of your nostrils 4 times per day. Apart from that, taking in pain and fever medication can be helpful too besides over-the-counter decongestants. Be careful should you use a nasal spray with decongestants as consumption of more than three days might exacerbate the attack. For patients with a known case of allergic rhinitis, they are advised to use intranasal steroids (nose spray with steroids) which can be prescribed by the doctors. You can consult a doctor online, in-case you are unsure. Antibiotics only come in when bacteria is suspected to be the causative agent.
Individuals with chronic or recurrent sinusitis may sometimes find themselves on dead ends when various treatments that have been tried upon are not effective. It sounds radical and unnecessary but surgical intervention is proven to have a good success rate in overcoming the issues but only selected few are advised to go through it. They are people with the need to correct their structural problems which are contributing to the frequent or prolonged episodes of sinus infections such as large polyps, closed sinus openings and blocked passage because of foreign materials. Other than that, an extension of the disease beyond the sinuses, as has been discussed above is also required to be managed surgically. Failure of intensive treatment with medications is indicated too.
Once the attack commences, in no time you would be uncomfortable because of the symptoms. Few tricks can be done by the patients in order to prevent the episode. It is vital to treat allergies and colds as soon as possible because like we know it, they are the common triggers. Do drink plenty of water to ensure that your mucus would not be thick during that time. If you smoke or live around smokers, stop smoking and avoid them for a while. The chemicals inside the cigarette are known to inflict injury to the lining of the sinuses. Besides that, prolonged exposure to the environment with a high amount of pollutants or haze must be restrained. Other precautionary measures that can be taken are:
- Identify the cause of allergy by doing an allergy test
- Practice a healthy diet, preferably food with a high amount of anti-oxidants.
- Do not spend lots of time swimming as the water can enter the sinus, bringing along small debris that can cause irritations.
Read about sinusitis answers online to know more about this condition.