Sinus infection (sinusitis) definition and facts
- Sinusitis or Sinus infection is inflammation of the air cavities within the passages of the nose.
- Sinusitis can be caused by infection, allergies, and chemical or particulate irritation of the sinuses.
- Most people do not spread Sinus infection to other people.
- Sinusitis may be classified as acute sinus infection, subacute sinus infection, chronic sinus infection, infected sinusitis, and noninfectious sinusitis.
- Sinusitis signs and symptoms include
- sinus headache,
- facial tenderness,
- pressure or pain in the sinuses, in the ears and teeth,
- cloudy discolored nasal or postnasal drainage,
- feeling of nasal stuffiness,
- sore throat,
- cough, and
- occasionally facial swelling.
Symptoms of a bacterial Sinus infection include
- facial pain,
- pus-like nasal discharge, and
- symptoms that persist for longer than a week and that are not responding to over-the-counter (OTC) nasal medications.
- Sinus infection is generally diagnosed based on the patient history and physical examination.
- Bacterial sinusitis is usually treated with antibiotics. Early treatment of allergic sinusitis may prevent secondary bacterial sinus infections.
- Home remedies for sinusitis and sinus infections include over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol and others), decongestants, and mucolytics.
- Nasal irrigationcan be accomplished with a Neti-pot or rinse kit (nasal bidet).
- Rare fungal infections of the sinuses (for example, zygomycosis) are medical emergencies.
- Complications of a sinus infection that may develop are meningitis, brain abscess, osteomyelitis, and orbital cellulitis.
- There are no fungal vaccines available to prevent fungal sinus infections.
What are the sinuses? How many do we have?
A sinus is a hollow, air-filled cavity. For the purposes of this article, a sinus will refer to those hollow cavities that are in the skull and connected to the nasal airway by a narrow hole in the bone (ostium). Normally all sinuses are open to the nasal airway through an ostium. Humans have four pair of these cavities each referred to as the:
- frontal sinus (in forehead),
- maxillary sinus (behind cheeks),
- ethmoid sinuses (between the eyes), and
- sphenoid sinus (deep behind the ethmoids).
The four pair of sinuses are often described as a unit and termed the “paranasal sinuses.” The cells of the inner lining of each sinus are mucus-secreting cells, epithelial cells and some cells that are part of the immune system (macrophages, lymphocytes, and eosinophils).
Functions of the sinuses include humidifying and warming inspired air, insulation of surrounding structures (eyes, nerves), increasing voice resonance, and as buffers against facial trauma. The sinuses decrease the weight of the skull. If the inflammation hinders the clearance of mucous or blocks the natural ostium, the inflammation may progress into a bacterial infection.
Sinus infection, definition and facts, frontal sinus, ethmoid sinuses