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Did you know?

Two-thirds of all physician office visits are for ear, nose, throat or allergic problems!


Causes of Sinusitis
What are sinuses?
Acute Vs. Chronic Sinusitis
Treatment of Sinusitis

Causes of Sinusitis

There are many causes of sinusitis. Certain activities and predisposition may put you at a greater risk. Below are lists of the more common causes of sinusitis.

  • Allergies. One of the most common causes of sinusitis.
  • Hay fever
  • House Dust Mite allergy
  • Pollen allergy
  • Dander from Cat or Dog
  • Mold allergy

Sinus blockage

The following contribute to tissue swelling in the sinus cavity causing the sinus to become blocked and not allowing free air and mucus to flow:

  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Deviated septum
  • Nasal polyps, obstructing the opening of the sinus
  • Viral respiratory infections
  • Fungal infections



What are Sinuses?

Sinuses are hollow air spaces that lie within the facial bones. The sinuses produce close to a liter of fluid per day that cleanses the passageways and provides necessary moisture to the lining of each sinus cavity. When people say, “I am having a sinus attack” they are referring to symptoms within one or more of the hollow cavities, or spaces, known as paranasal sinuses. These cavities include the frontal sinuses, above the brow of the eyes; the maxillary sinuses inside the cheekbone; the ethmoid sinuses behind the bridge of the nose and between the eyes; and behind them, the sphenoids in the upper region of the nose and behind the eyes. Each sinus allows for free air and mucus exchange. Tiny hairs called cilia, line the sinus and help flush out the fluid in a constant motion. Occasionally when infection or allergy irritates the sinuses the sinuses can swell causing a blockage within the sinus cavity. Air trapped within an obstructed sinus, along with pus or other secretions, may cause inflammation and pressure against the sinus wall. The result is usually an intense pain called a sinus infection or sinusitis.


Normal Sinus Cat Scan

Abnormal Sinus Cat Scan

Symptoms of Sinusitis

Sinusitis has its own localized pain centers. For example, if the frontal sinuses were affected then the pain signal would be generated above the eyebrows. If the maxillary sinus cavities were affected, then you would have pain and or tenderness over the cheek areas. Infections in the maxillary sinus cavities have also been known to cause jaw and teeth tenderness. If the ethmoid sinuses are infected you could have pain and tenderness between the eyes. Ethmoid inflammation can also cause anosmia (loss of smell) and a stuffy nose. Although the sphenoids are less frequently affected, infection in this area can cause earaches, neck pain, and deep aching at the top of the head. However, most patients with sinusitis have pain in several sinuses. Other symptoms of sinusitis can include fever, weakness and fatigue. In addition, drainage from the sinuses can cause inflammation of the larynx making it difficult to speak. In severe rare occasions, sinusitis can cause brain infections and serious complications.


Acute Vs. Chronic Sinusitis

Acute Sinusitis

This particular sinus problem is the more common condition. It usually lasts about seven to ten days and often follows a cold. The tissue of the sinus will swell and become inflamed which in turn will cause pain and discomfort.

Chronic Sinusitis

Chronic Sinusitis refers to inflammation of the sinuses that continues for at least three weeks, but often continues for months or even years. This condition is usually the result of repeated or untreated acute infections. The most common cause of chronic sinusitis is due to allergic rhinitis (see allergy section) Inhalation of airborne allergens such as dust, pollen, mold, and dander, often can set off an allergic response, which exacerbate the sinusitis.


Treatment of Sinusitis

First the doctor will need to make a diagnosis. A diagnosis can be made by medical history, physical examination, X-rays, and occasionally if it is necessary a CT scan (Computed Tomography). Once the diagnosis has been established the course of treatment may vary depending on the cause and severity of the problem.

One of the courses of treatment is prescribing decongestants to reduce the congestion, and antibiotics to control bacterial infection. Doctors often prescribe steroid nasal spays to help reduce the congestion, swelling and inflammation of the sinuses.

Although sinus surgery in usually the last option for chronic sinusitis, it may be indicated if there is a strong history to support it and the above treatments have failed. Studies have shown that patients that undergo surgery have fewer symptoms and have a better quality of life. In children, performing an adenoidectomy (surgical removal of the adenoids) often eliminates the obstruction caused by the adenoids. The most common form of sinus surgery is functional endoscopic sinus surgery, in which the natural openings to the sinuses are enlarged to allow natural drainage. This type of surgery is less invasive

If you feel that you suffer from sinusitis or allergic rhinitis please make an appointment to discuss this with the doctor. Remember we are only a phone call a way to better health. Please call (972) 492-6990.