The Facts Behind Sinusitis
Are you suffering from a constantly blocked or runny nose? Do areas of your face feel sore and tender? Does your jaw hurt when you eat? If you are suffering one or more of these symptoms, it is possible you may have sinusitis, an inflammation of the lining of the sinuses. Other symptoms include headaches, lethargy, nosebleeds, pressure in the ears and a feeling of general malaise.
Acute sinusitis is a common condition caused by a bacterial or viral infection and can affect both children and adults. In most cases a cold or flu will weaken your immune system and damage the lining of the nose and sinuses, allowing natural bacteria to infect. This usually clears up within a couple of weeks with the help of decongestants, painkillers and sometimes antibiotics.
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Persistent sinusitis may be a sign that you need to speak to a sinus surgeon.
Your Sinuses Explained
Your sinuses are four pairs of air pockets inside the cheekbones and forehead. They are connected to the inside of your nose and help to control the water content and temperature of the air reaching your lungs. Your sinuses regularly create mucus that drains through your nose and into the back of the throat, but when the sinuses are inflamed or infected, the sinus opening becomes blocked.
Obstructions in the drainage pathway of the sinuses and the swelling of tissues allow infections to become trapped within the sinus secretions, causing severe pain across your cheeks, forehead and eyes.
Aside from infections caused by the common cold, sinusitis can be caused by allergies, detergent sprays and disinfectants, air and smoke pollution, injury to the nose following an accident and dental infections.
Flying may also be particularly painful for sufferers of sinusitis due to the change in air pressure.
Chronic sinusitis is less common but is often diagnosed when the patient has suffered for more than 12 weeks. Your doctor may instigate examinations and scans at this point. Additional symptoms during this time may include nasal discharge, loss of smell and halitosis.
If your symptoms persist beyond the antibiotics, steroids and further examinations that are sometimes prescribed at this stage, it’s likely your doctor will suggest seeing an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist to discuss sinus surgery.
A number of options exist depending upon the gravity and cause of the infection, and new technologies now exist which allow surgery to be performed with improved outcomes and fewer complications. Surgery takes place through the nostrils rather than via the mouth or skin, and allows the sinuses to continue to function normally. These procedures are known as FESS (functional endoscopic sinus surgery) and CASS (computer assisted sinus surgery).
Sinus problems can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, but with the correct advice and treatment your discomfort could soon be a thing of the past.
If you are seeking sinus surgery or are having ongoing problems following previous surgery, contact a specialist Endoscopic Sinus Surgeon who will assess your ongoing problems and suggest the most appropriate method of surgery to improve your sinus drainage and ventilation and to help your sinuses function properly.