Introduction to acute sinusitis
If you have got some stuffy nose before or perhaps you currently are having it, you might be experiencing what is called acute sinusitis. The nose is lined by a sheet of tissue called a membrane. This membrane can become inflamed from infections. The infection will cause them to become inflamed within a short while. It is a virus that causes cold that is responsible for this infection. Other agents can also cause this as you shall be seeing in this article much later. Because of this, mucus will accumulate in the nose and sinuses surrounding the nose. This accumulation of mucus will then cause you to feel pressure in your forehead, eyes, and cheekbones. Your nose becomes stuffed, too.
Acute sinusitis is otherwise called rhinosinusitis. It cannot be ‘shared’ with others. At least 1 in 8 adults are affected every year according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology.
Causes of acute sinusitis
Aside from the cold virus, other agents are responsible for the development of acute sinusitis. These are hay fever, fungi, bacteria, inflamed adenoids, cystic fibrosis, and nasal polyps. A deviated nasal septum has also been implicated in this subject matter. In cystic fibrosis, the body builds up thick mucus due to some genetic defects. In instances where a tooth is inflamed by bacteria, the same bacteria can travel to surrounding sinuses.
Risk factors for acute sinusitis
A risk factor is any factor that predisposes you to have acute sinusitis. Take a look at some common ones:
- Allergies within the nasal region.
- Cystic fibrosis
- Insufficiencies in the nasal passage. A good example is a nasal polyp.
- Frequent use of tobacco especially the smoking of it. Frequent exposure to other nasal pollutants can also precipitate acute sinusitis.
- Adenoids that have become inflamed.
- Frequent visit to places where causative disease germs are thriving e.g. preschool, daycare homes etc.
- Activities resulting in pressure changes. Common examples are scuba diving and flying.
- An immune system that has become weak from infections.
Symptoms of acute sinusitis
Symptoms of acute sinusitis include:
- nasal congestion
- sore throat
- bad breath
- a cough that worsens at night
- decreased sense of taste and smell
- drainage of mucus behind the throat.
- Pressure will also be felt in the eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead. And lastly,
- You should expect to discharge some yellowish or greenish mucus from your nose.
Diagnosis of acute sinusitis
One of the first diagnostic attempts on you by your doctor is a physical examination. Your doctor will use his fingers to gently press mount pressure your sinuses in order to see if an infection is present. Your nose will also be looked into to find out what kind of abnormality is therein – polyps, inflammation, tumors etc.
More diagnostic tests will be performed on you. Such tests shall include:
Here, a very thin fiber-optic scope referred to as a nasal endoscope will be pushed into your nose for a medical view. The device is quite flexible. Your doctor can peep into the device to see what kind of abnormalities is present in the sinuses.
Non-invasive imaging tests
Your doctor can choose to use either an MRI or a CT scan to diagnose what problems there are in your nose and sinuses. While a CT scan takes a detailed cross-sectional area of your nose using rotating X-rays and digital computes, an MRI uses another approach. It uses 3D technology, magnetic field, and radio waves to view your nose and sinuses.
Treatment for acute sinusitis
The majority of acute sinusitis cases are treated right at home.
- Get a washcloth, warm it up in water. In that moist state, place it over your sinuses to relieve your pains.
- If you can get a humidifier, that’s fine. It can ensure the air is moist.
- Use a saline nasal spray for your nasal passages. Use it as many times as possible in a day.
- Don’t stay dehydrated. Take a copious amount of fluids to reduce the thickness of the mucus.
- You can buy any medically approved nasal corticosteroid spray from a nearby drugstore. Fluticasone propionate (aka Flonase) is a common example. It will reduce inflammation to the barest minimum.
- Oral decongestant therapy. You can easily get this over the counter. It is a mucus-dryer. A notable example is a pseudoephedrine (aka Sudafed).
- Pain relievers. From the name, you will agree that they will make your pains to be minimized and cured peradventure. Acetaminophen (aka Tylenol) and ibuprofen (aka Motrin) are good examples that you can walk to any drugstore and buy.
- Whenever you want to sleep, ensure you sleep with your head elevated. Doing this will help your sinuses to drain.
If your doctor tells you he/she will be giving you a prescription antibiotic therapy, it means you have acute sinusitis of a bacterial origin.
If you are having bouts of acute sinusitis due to intranasal allergies, you will be directed to an allergist who will give you the right allergy shots.
If you have nasal tumors (polyps) or a deviated nasal septum, a surgical option might be considered. In the process, your sinuses will be drained.
There are alternative treatments! Read further.
According to a 2007 German publication, two herbs, nasturtium, and horseradish, have been found to be useful in relieving symptoms associated with acute sinusitis symptoms. Unlike standard antibiotic therapy, these herbs were found to produce a decreased probability of experiencing adverse side effects. You might want to try them out. But do ensure you get accurate information from your doctor before you go ahead with this therapy.
Acupuncture and acupressure
Yes, there is yet no scientific evidence to prove their effectiveness; certain people have reported that they were relieved from allergy-induced acute sinusitis through this approach.
Most people that have acute sinusitis will clear up with home treatments. And sometimes, it might not clear up. This type of acute sinusitis is either sub-acute or chronic sinusitis.
Cleveland Clinic submitted that sub-acute sinusitis can last between 4 to 8 weeks while chronic sinusitis lasts beyond 8 weeks. In rare occasions, acute infectious sinusitis can affect your ears, eyes, and bones. Meningitis can also develop.
See a healthcare provider if you experience:
- Changes in your sight
- A medication-unresponsive headache
- Fever of high-class
These signs might be indicating that the condition has spread beyond your sinuses.
Preventing acute sinusitis
Here is how you can prevent having acute sinusitis:
- Strengthen your immune system; eat healthily!
- No to cigarette smoking and frequent exposure to air pollutants.
- Minimize how you have body or close contact with those suffering from acute respiratory and sinus infections.
- Before you eat your meals, wash your hand.
- Moisten your sinuses with a humidifier in dry weather.
- Get a flu vaccine every year.
- Be prompt in your treatment of allergies.
- Keep oral decongestants handy whenever you have nasal congestion.
Ifiokobong Ene is a Medical Physiologist, and a freelance medical writer. Ifiok brings his years of medical research experience to help consistently create high-quality, and engaging articles and products that uphold the highest medical standards. He is dedicated to making health and wellness information available, actionable, and understandable so that readers can make the best decisions about their health.