Sinusitis means inflammation, or an infection of the sinuses (sinus cavities). The sinuses are air-filled spaces (cavities) within the bones of the face and are located in the cheeks, forehead and around the eyes. The sinuses are linked together, and connected to the nose, ears and throat too. One function of the sinuses is to warm and moisten inhaled air before it reaches the lungs. Cold air into the sinus cavities can also cause the nose to block. The sinuses are also lined with cells that help prevent infection by producing mucus to trap particles of dirt and other pollutants that are breathed in. Sometimes this mucus and particles build up and then cause inflammation and infection and this is why regular flushing of the sinuses needs to be encouraged.
Causes of sinusitis
Sinusitis is caused by swelling of the lining of the sinuses and nose, allergy response and too much mucus and particle build up, which can block the narrow channels. This can occur during a cold, or may be due to allergy (for example, hayfever) or irritation of the linings of the sinuses (for example, from chlorine in a swimming pool). Some preservative such as the preservative 220 can cause inflammation and blockages of the sinuses as well. Bacteria can also grow inside the sinuses, causing pain, headache and migraine and sometimes fever. Mucus from infected sinuses can be yellow or green. It often resembles a peanut butter like colour. Some people get sinusitis with most colds, while others get it rarely. Many people that have persistent cold like symptoms may in fact have chronic sinusitis.
Common symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Blocked nose
- Feeling of pressure inside the face
- Facial pain, particularly when leaning forward
- Aching teeth in the upper jaw
- Yellow or green-colored mucus from the nose
- Swelling of the face
- Loss of the senses of smell and taste
- Persistent cough
- Generally feeling unwell.
Certain factors increase a person’s susceptibility to sinusitis, including:
- Frequent colds (especially for young children)
- Cigarette smoking (active or passive)
- Regular use of nasal decongestant sprays (for more than two to three days)
- Untreated hay fever or other allergies
- Structural abnormalities of the nose
- Nasal polyps (swellings in the linings of the nose or sinuses)
- Dental disease, such as untreated tooth abscess.
- Diet high in inflammatory foods and preservatives.
Decongestants that help with symptoms of colds usually do not help with sinusitis. Nose sprays and some steroidal sprays can even make the problem worse, if they are used for too long, because they can cause more swelling and thinning of the lining. Antibiotics are often prescribed for sinusitis, but not all sinusitis is caused from infection. Most people will recover fully from sinusitis in a week or so without antibiotics, but they may recover more quickly if effective antibiotics are used. (Some antibiotics are much more useful for sinusitis than others). Other options to manage the symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Steam inhalation, perhaps including a few drops of eucalyptus oil
- Nasal flushes such as FLO nasal care
- Acupuncture provides great relief and management of sinusitis
- Chinese herbs and complementary therapies can also provide help with sinusitis
- Comfortably hot compresses held against the face
- Pain relief medication and sometimes steroids, such as paracetamol, Ibuprofen & prednisone. Sometimes stronger pain relief medication is needed
If you suffer from sinusitis, it’s important to see if there is any trigger which can be treated. For example, hayfever, or dental disease may need to be treated, or you may want to avoid irritants found in your diet and around your environment. Some people may also need to do desensitisation to allergies affect them.
People with persistent sinusitis should also be getting a CT scan of the paranasal sinuses to make sure the sinus cavity isn’t completely blocked, or they have nasal polyps, which will require surgery. Surgery to drain the pus and improve the flow of mucus from the sinus may be an option for persistent cases of sinusitis. Some people also have what we call nasal polypoid disease which is a growth of fungus that causes the sinuses to be blocked, inflamed and be infected and this will require surgery to treat. It may grow back without proper management.
At Shen Therapies we can help with all the symptoms and treatment of sinusitis and help with allergic rhinitis and hayfever. We know how to treat sinusitis effectively and know how to fidn the cause of your problem. If you suffer from any of these on a regular basis and aren’t getting the help you need, then you need to book in and have a consultation and treatments to help you fix the cause of your sinus issues.