What is Sinusitis?
A Sinus Infection involving the inflammation of the membrane lining a nasal sinus.
What are Common Causes of Sinusitis?
Viral infections, such as the common cold/flu:
In viral cases, the body reacts by producing mucus and sending white blood cells to the lining of the nose, which congest and swell the nasal passages. When this swelling involves the adjacent mucous membranes of the sinuses, air and mucus are trapped behind the narrowed opening of the sinuses. This is where the infection grows.
Some bacterial strains are normal inhabitants of the upper respiratory tract, e.g. Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae. These bacteria have no ill effects until the body’s defenses are weakened, or when drainage from the sinuses is blocked by a cold or other viral infection, then the bacteria start to be virulent and cause infection of the upper respiratory tract and secondary sinusitis.
Fungi or molds are abundant in the environment, These organisms are usually harmless to healthy people. However, 16% -20% of the population has a genetic T-cell defect, which gives them a predisposition to mold sensitivities. If sensitive to mold, a person can have an an immune reaction whenever it enters their nasal passages. Allergic responses to mold/fungus include hay fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and a skin rash known as Dermatitis. Systemic symptoms, such as muscle and joint pain, fibromyalgia, GI symptoms, and fatigue are also common for those with mold allergies. Certain fungi, such as Aspergillus, Cladospporium, Penicillium, Fusarium, and Curvularia can cause serious illness in people with genetic sensitivities and even in some people without genetic T-cell defects.
Inhalation of airborne allergens, such as dust, mold, and pollen, often set off allergic reactions that, in turn, may contribute to sinusitis. Hay fever may also be complicated by episodes of acute sinusitis. Patients with allergic rhinitis can also have chronic sinusitis.
>>Food allergies are a complicating factor, and should not be overlooked for those with allergic rhinitis, as they can compound the reaction to mold and other inhaled allergens.
Inflammation caused by humidity, cold air, alcohol, perfumes, and other environmental conditions, also may be complicated by sinus infections.
Immune deficiencies and HIV infection:
Those patients are more susceptible to develop acute sinusitis than the general population.
Cystic Fibrosis and Diseases of Abnormal Cilia:
Acute and chronic sinusitis could happen as a result of abnormal mucus secretion or cilia movement.
Obstruction of the Nose:
This could be due to a deviated nasal septum or to nasal polyps obstructing and trapping fluid in the sinuses. This could also be caused by a growth or a tumor, although the presence of tumors in the sinuses is relatively uncommon.
As one ages, the nasal mucus loses its water content and becomes increasingly thick and sticky. Patients complain of post-nasal drip, cough, and hoarseness; the condition is best treated with nasal irrigation and increased hydration.
Do I Need to See a Doctor About My Sinusitis?
The symptoms of sinusitis can be very similar to those of the common cold; but, with pressure felt in the sinuses. With children, the symptoms may mimic a cold, and only a doctor’s examination can determine the true cause. If the symptoms do not subside within 10 days, or if there is any fever, a doctor should be consulted.
Other times to see a doctor for evaluation:
• Symptoms that don’t improve within a few days or symptoms that get worse
• A persistent fever
• A history of recurrent or chronic sinusitis
See a doctor immediately if you have any of these signs or symptoms that may indicate a serious infection:
• Pain or swelling around your eyes
• Swollen forehead
• Severe headache
• Double vision or other vision changes
• Stiff neck
• Shortness of breath