The sinuses are air-filled cavities behind the face that help to filter the air we breathe of particles. These particles are caught by mucus, and then hairs move them down to the throat. When the sinuses become blocked, this process is halted. Mucus become trapped in the sinuses and germs multiply, causing an infection. Sinus infections, also called sinusitis, can be a painful and frustrating illness.
Sinus infections are caused by a blocking of the sinuses from a number of sources. Often, allergies will trigger congestion. The common cold is another typical instigator of the nasal blockage that leads to a sinus infection. Because a cold has similar symptoms to sinusitis and will often lead to sinusitis, it can be difficult to tell where a cold ends and a sinus infection begins. Nasal polyps and narrow nasal passages can also lead to sinusitis.
As stated, symptoms of a sinus infection can mirror that of a cold. However, other symptoms that may distinguish a bacterial sinus infection from a cold (URI) include:
- • Fatigue
- • Postnasal drip
- • Pain in upper teeth
- • Loss of sense of smell
- • Bad breath
- • Discolored mucus
- • Pain and fullness behind face
- • Consistent congestion
- • Coughing
Acute or Chronic
Acute sinusitis has a sudden onset and shorter recovery. If the infection lasts for over eight weeks, it is no longer considered acute and is described as a chronic condition. Acute sinus infection often clear up on its own. Antibiotics, saline sprays, antihistamines, and decongestants can help speed this process of recovery. If a patient has chronic or recurring sinus infections, more intensive treatments may be necessary. Surgery can help broaden the passages and clear polyps, preventing future blockages.