Sinusitis

Does your head always feel stuffy? Do you have discolored nasal drainage? Do you often feel pain and pressure behind your eyes and cheeks? If you answered "yes", you're in good company. About 35 million people develop chronic sinusitis each year, making it one of the most common health complaints in America.

What is sinusitis?

 Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal sinuses which are air pockets in the skull between the facial bones. There are several of these large sinuses, which include:

  • Maxillary - the two inside the cheekbones
  • Frontal - the two above the eyes
  • Ethmoidal and Sphenoidal - the four in the middle of the face and head

The sinuses are lined with membranes that secrete antibody-containing mucus, which protects the respiratory passages from the onslaught of irritants in the air we breathe.

Symptoms of chronic (long lasting) sinusitis

  • Dull ache or pressure across the mid-face, especially between or deep into the eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Thick or discolored nasal drainage

Symptoms of acute (short lasting) sinusitis

  • Fever
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Puss-like (purulent) nasal discharge
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Facial pain or pressure that is sometimes aggravated by bending over
  • Relief from sinusitis

    Our experts may prescribe one or more of the following remedies, which can be useful in reducing inflammation in the sinuses and nose - speeding recovery:

    • Decongestants
      • Medications like pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine constrict the blood vessels and shrink the sinus and nasal membranes, reducing stuffiness in the sinuses and nasal passageways.
    • Over-the-Counter Nasal Sprays
      • These products, including Afrin and Dristan, are decongestants in a spray form. They are effective when used for a few days, but can cause worse congestion when used for longer periods of time.
    • Nasal Saline and Bicarbonate Kits
      • These rinse kits are available over-the-counter at drug stores and provide significant relief.
    • Prescription Inhalers
      • Several types of prescription nasal inhalers can help reduce sinus inflammation (these are not decongestants and are not habit-forming). These drugs include Nasacort, Rhinocort, Nasonex and Flonase (all cortisone derivatives) and Nasalcrom (a non-cortisone drug). When used, as directed by a doctor, prescription inhalers can be taken safely for months.
    • Expectorants
      • Medicines, such as Guaifenesin, thin the mucus so it drains more easily.
    • Antihistamines
      • These medications include over-the-counter antihistamines, including Allegra and Claritin. They help relieve nasal itchiness and inflammation by blocking the action of histamine. However, they do not help much with congestion.
    • Humidifiers and Salt-water Sprays
      • Dry-air heating systems and air-conditioning can cause sinus membranes to dry out, crack and become vulnerable to irritants, inflammation and infection. Keeping a humidifier running in your home and office or using an over-the-counter salt-water spray (inhaled through the nose) five or six times a day can provide dramatic relief.
    • Antibiotics
      • Recurrent sinusitis accompanied by a bacterial infection usually requires an antibiotic. These drugs may be given in larger doses for a longer period of time (up to four weeks) than required for brief bouts of sinusitis. The doctor may also recommend continued use of a prescription nasal inhaler for several months to keep the inflammation down and prevent a recurrence
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