Sinusitis, commonly referred to as sinus infection, is the inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses. Sinuses are hollow cavities in the skull, located around the nose and eyes, and they produce mucus that helps humidify and filter the air we breathe. Sinusitis can occur in people of all age groups, not just adults. Here are the causes, types, and symptoms of sinusitis:
- Viral Infections: The most common cause of sinusitis is viral infections, such as the common cold or influenza. These infections can lead to inflammation of the sinuses.
- Bacterial Infections: Sometimes, bacterial infections can develop as a complication of a viral sinus infection, leading to acute bacterial sinusitis.
- Allergies: Allergic reactions to pollen, dust, pet dander, or other allergens can trigger allergic rhinitis, which can then lead to sinusitis if left untreated.
- Environmental Irritants: Exposure to pollutants, smoke, or chemicals can irritate the nasal passages and sinuses, increasing the risk of sinusitis.
- Nasal Polyps: These small, noncancerous growths in the nasal passages can obstruct normal sinus drainage, leading to chronic sinusitis.
- Deviated Septum: A deviated nasal septum can block the normal flow of mucus, increasing the likelihood of sinus infections.
- Acute Sinusitis: This type usually lasts for a short time, often after a viral infection. Symptoms include facial pain, nasal congestion, and thick yellow or green nasal discharge.
- Chronic Sinusitis: When sinusitis persists for 12 weeks or longer despite treatment, it’s considered chronic. Symptoms are similar to acute sinusitis but may be milder and last longer.
- Recurrent Sinusitis: This involves several episodes of acute sinusitis within a year.
- Subacute Sinusitis: Symptoms last between 4 and 12 weeks, typically following a viral infection.
Common symptoms of sinusitis include:
– Nasal congestion
– Facial pain or pressure, especially around the eyes and forehead
– Thick yellow or green nasal discharge
– Sore throat
– Reduced sense of smell and taste
– Ear pressure or fullness
It’s important to note that not all sinusitis is infectious, as some cases can be due to allergies or irritants.
Sinusitis can affect people of all ages, from infants to the elderly. However, the causes and symptoms may vary depending on age. In children, for example, symptoms may include irritability, difficulty feeding, and nasal discharge. In the elderly, symptoms may be less pronounced due to age-related changes in the sinuses. Treatment options for sinusitis depend on the underlying cause and may include rest, hydration, decongestants, antihistamines, antibiotics (for bacterial infections), and in some cases, surgery to correct structural issues like nasal polyps or a deviated septum. If you suspect you have sinusitis, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.