Inflammation of the Sinuses

Sinuses are air filled sacs located in your head. You have four pair: frontal, maxillary, ethmoid, and sphenoid. The frontal sinuses are located in the bone just above your eyes. The maxillary sinuses lie beneath your cheeks. Ethmoid sinuses are on either side of your nose but further back in your skull. Sphenoid sinuses are just below the ethmoid sinuses. These sacs are lined with thin membranes that produce mucus. The mucus flushes out bacteria, viruses and dust. It drains out of the sinuses and into the nose through small openings. When these openings become blocked sinusitis occurs. Sinusitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the sinuses.

Sinusitis can be chronic or temporary. Infections or allergies may cause the thin membranes in the sinuses to swell. Then the openings are blocked causing discomfort and a feeling of congestion. Bacteria also infect the sinuses when the mucus builds up and offers a breeding ground. Sinus blockage can also be caused by a viral infection. If the inflammation is caused by bacteria, it is usually accompanied by fever, congestion, a green nasal discharge, pain, a red flush over the sinus and a toothache just below the sinus. In very serious cases, high fevers and shaking chills may occur.

How sinusitis is treated depends on the cause. Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics. Other infections may be treated with decongestant pills, nasal sprays, antihistamine pills, or nasal corticosteroid sprays. There are also some home remedies that are effective to prevent and treat sinusitis. It is recommended that the person drink lots of fluids, at least sixty-four ounces a day. This will keep the mucus thin and flowing. Apply warm packs over the infected sinuses or inhaling steam is also effective. If you believe that your sinusitis is due to seasonal allergies, try to determine the cause of the allergy and then avoid the allergen.

There are also some lifestyle changes that may be required. Scuba divers are advised to avoid diving until their sinusitis is completely cured. Anyone planning to travel by air needs to avoid flying if congestion is still present. The changes in air pressure that occurs during flights can force more mucus into the sinuses. If people persist in flying, they are advised to use a decongestant an hour before taking off and use a decongestant nasal spray about a half hour before the plane embarks upon its descent. They should also consume lots of fluids during the flight, preferably water and juices.

When all the various treatments are not effective and sinusitis still recurs, your doctor may consider surgery as an option. The surgery is designed to enlarge the narrow sinus openings. During the surgery tiny endoscopes are inserted through the nose and into the sinus passages. Endoscopes are thin flexible tubes with a camera mounted on the tips. Most of them have a light, a viewer to reflect the image to the scope and a lens to enlarge the image. The surgery will widen the openings and then improve drainage. No incisions are ever made on the facial skin.