Frequent causes of headache, often overlooked and worsened by self medications – sinusitis is something we all must be aware of. The differences between a common cold and sinusitis are often blurry because both of these illnesses often have similar signs and symptoms initially. Both of these seasonal ailments can be equally difficult to deal with. But since they require a different course of action, you need to know how to tell sinusitis apart from the common cold. The common cold has no specific cure, needs symptomatic management and usually has to run its course for 7 to 10 days. But sinusitis, if left untreated can progress and create further health complications.
What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis occurs when there is an inflammation of the tissue in your sinuses. Paranasal Sinuses are hollow air-filled spaces in the skull around your forehead, nose and eyes. These spaces have membranes that produce mucus. Usually, there are hair-like structures known as cilia in these membranes that push the mucus towards your nose for outflow. But in the case of sinusitis, this drainage of mucus is prohibited due to the swelling of the sinus membranes, leading to obstruction in the drainage of mucus. This may lead to infection of sinuses and symptoms like headaches, stuffy nose, cough and congestion.
Causes of Sinusitis
Sinusitis is caused by different types of viral or bacterial infections. In fact, the common cold and allergic rhinitis can also be one of the major causes that lead to inflammation of the sinuses.
Besides, nasal polyps, which are small growths in the lining of the nose, can also cause sinusitis. But there can be other more serious underlying causes like a deviated septum (a disfigured nasal cavity), which may lead to chronic sinusitis as well.
Symptoms of Sinusitis
- Postnasal drip (mucus may drip down the throat)
- Thick yellow or greenish discharge from nose or stuffy nose
- Pain and pressure – particularly around the nose, eyes and forehead
- Headache and or pain that may radiate to your jaws or ears.
- Bad breath
- Change in voice
Types of Sinusitis
Here is a list of the different types of sinusitis so that you can get to listen from your doctor:
- Acute Sinusitis – This kind of sinusitis can end as abruptly as it began. It usually lasts for more than 10 days.
- Subacute Sinusitis – This is a more serious form of acute sinusitis and can last for up to 12 weeks. It has similar symptoms but usually with slightly different levels of severity.
- Chronic Sinusitis – Sinusitis that lasts for more than 12 weeks is referred to as chronic sinusitis and can be quite detrimental to your quality of life.
- Recurrent Sinusitis – This type of sinusitis happens several times a year and is known to have similar signs and symptoms of other forms of sinusitis.
Treatment of Sinusitis
For sinusitis, a decongestant coupled with regular saline nasal washes and steam inhalation may be a quick remedy. However, it is recommended not to use over-the-counter (OTC) decongestant sprays for more than 2 days in a row.
It is important to consult a doctor at the earliest for the treatment of sinusitis to avoid worsening of symptoms. In case of infection, you may be prescribed some antibiotics for the treatment along with other medicines based on your complaints.
How to Prevent Sinusitis?
Since prevention is always better than cure, you would be better off trying to prevent the onset of acute or chronic sinusitis in the first place. You can do this by:
- Avoiding smoking or even passive smoking.
- Washing your hands often, especially during the flu and common cold seasons.
- Maintaining distance from people who are suffering from a common cold.
- Getting an allergy test done to know things you are allergic to because many common allergens can also trigger sinusitis.
Sinusitis is a common seasonal (or even chronic) ailment that many people suffer from and it is also one of the most overlooked illnesses. The most common symptoms of sinusitis that people have reported are nasal blockage and headaches. Therefore, this ailment is usually not reported unless it becomes a serious impediment to the quality of life. But when left untreated, it can lead to serious health complications. To prevent such complications, it is best to consult a doctor when you find that you might have the symptoms of sinusitis.
Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.