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Acute sinusitis; Sinus infection; Sinusitis - acute; Sinusitis - chronic; Rhinosinusitis
Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses that occurs with an infection from a virus, bacteria, or fungus.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The sinuses are air-filled spaces in the skull (behind the forehead, nasal bones, cheeks, and eyes). Healthy sinuses contain no bacteria or other germs. Usually, mucus is able to drain out and air is able to circulate.
When the sinus openings become blocked or too much mucus builds up, bacteria and other germs can grow more easily.
Sinusitis can occur from one of these conditions:
- Small hairs (cilia) in the sinuses, which help move mucus out, do not work properly due to some medical conditions.
- Colds and allergies may cause too much mucus to be made or block the opening of the sinuses.
- A deviated nasal septum, nasal bone spur, or nasal polyps may block the opening of the sinuses.
Sinusitis can be called:
- Acute, when symptoms are present for 4 weeks or less. It is caused by bacteria growing in the sinuses.
- Chronic, when swelling and inflammation of the sinuses are present for longer than 3 months. It may be caused by bacteria or a fungus.
The following may increase your risk or your child's risk of developing sinusitis:
- Allergic rhinitis or hay fever
- Cystic fibrosis
- Day care
- Diseases that prevent the cilia from working properly
- Changes in altitude (flying or scuba diving)
- Large adenoids
- Weakened immune system from HIV or chemotherapy
The symptoms of acute sinusitis in adults usually follow a cold that does not improve, or one that gets worse after 5 - 7 days of symptoms. Symptoms include:
- Bad breath or loss of smell
- Cough, often worse at night
- Fatigue and generally not feeling well
- Headache -- pressure-like pain, pain behind the eyes, toothache, or tenderness of the face
- Nasal stuffiness and discharge
- Sore throat and postnasal drip
Symptoms of chronic sinusitis are the same as those of acute sinusitis, but tend to be milder and last longer than 12 weeks.
Symptoms of sinusitis in children include:
- Cold or respiratory illness that has been improving and then begins to get worse
- High fever, along with a darkened nasal discharge, for at least 3 days
- Nasal discharge, with or without a cough, that has been present for more than 10 days and is not improving
Signs and tests
The doctor will examine you or your child for sinusitis by:
- Looking in the nose for signs of polyps
- Shining a light against the sinus (transillumination) for signs of inflammation
- Tapping over a sinus area to find infection
Regular x-rays of the sinuses are not very accurate for diagnosing sinusitis.
Viewing the sinuses through a fiberoptic scope (called nasal endoscopy or rhinoscopy) may help diagnose sinusitis. This is usually done by doctors who specialize in ear, nose, and throat problems (ENTs).
Imaging tests that may be used to decide on treatment are:
- A CT scan of the sinuses to help diagnose sinusitis or view the bones and tissues of the sinuses more closely
- An MRI of the sinuses if there might be a tumor or fungal infection
If you or your child has sinusitis that does not go away or keeps returning, other tests may include:
- Allergy testing
- Blood tests for HIV or other tests for poor immune function
- Ciliary function tests
- Nasal cultures
- Nasal cytology
- Sweat chloride tests for cystic fibrosis
Try the following measures to help reduce congestion in your sinuses:
- Apply a warm, moist washcloth to your face several times a day.
- Drink plenty of fluids to thin the mucus.
- Inhale steam 2 - 4 times per day (for example, while sitting in the bathroom with the shower running).
- Spray with nasal saline several times per day.
- Use a humidifier.
- Use a Neti pot to flush the sinuses.
Be careful with over-the-counter spray nasal decongestants. They may help at first, but using them for more than 3 - 5 days can make nasal stuffiness worse.
Also, for sinus pain or pressure:
- Avoid flying when you are congested.
- Avoid temperature extremes, sudden changes in temperature, and bending forward with your head down.
- Try acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Working with a Holistic Chiropractor who can help you develop a well-rounded, multi-faceted approach is important when considering how to treat the sinus congestion/infection and more importantly, why you got the sinus congestion/infection. Understanding your options and appreciating the time commitment and costs associated would be important. Discussing this with your Holistic Chiropractor is warranted.
Many have received help by working with an Acupuncturist, Homeopath or Naturopath.
MEDICATIONS AND OTHER TREATMENTS
Antibiotics are usually not needed for acute sinusitis. Most of these infections go away on their own. Even when antibiotics do help, they may only slightly reduce the time you or your child is sick. Antibiotics may be prescribed sooner for:
- Children with nasal discharge, possibly with a cough, that is not getting better after 2 - 3 weeks
- Fever higher than 102.2° Fahrenheit (39° Celsius)
- Headache or pain in the face
- Severe swelling around the eyes
Acute sinusitis should be treated for 10 - 14 days. Chronic sinusitis should be treated for 3 - 4 weeks. Some people with chronic sinusitis may need special medicines to treat fungal infections.
At some point, your doctor will consider:
- Other prescription medications
- More testing
- Referral to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) or allergy specialist
Other treatments for sinusitis include:
- Allergy shots (immunotherapy) to help prevent the disease from returning
- Avoiding allergy triggers
- Nasal corticosteroid sprays and antihistamines to decrease swelling, especially if there are nasal polyps or allergies
As with all medication, consulting with your Medical Doctor or Pharmacist is important when considering the potential side effects from antibiotics or any medication. Discussing the side-effects and complications of the medication is warranted.
Surgery to enlarge the sinus opening and drain the sinuses may also be needed, especially in patients whose symptoms do not go away after 3 months of treatment, or in patients who have more than two or three episodes of acute sinusitis each year. An ENT specialist (also known as an otolaryngologist) can perform this surgery.
Most fungal sinus infections need surgery. Surgery to repair a deviated septum or nasal polyps may prevent the condition from returning.
Sinus infections can usually be cured with Self-care measures and Alternative treatment with a Holistic Chiropractor. If you are having repeated attacks, you should be checked for causes such as nasal polyps or other problems, such as allergies. Your Holistic Chiropractor is well versed to help you address these causes so your sinusitis can get well and stay well. Developing a well-rounded, multifaceted approach to your sinusitis will help resolve and eliminate your sinusitis.
Although very rare, complications may include:
- Bone infection (osteomyelitis)
- Skin infection around the eye (orbital cellulitis)
Calling your health care provider
Call your doctor if:
- Your symptoms last longer than 10 - 14 days or you have a cold that gets worse after 7 days
- You have a severe headache that is not relieved by over-the-counter pain medicine
- You have a fever
- You still have symptoms after taking all of your antibiotics properly
- You have any changes in your vision during a sinus infection
A green or yellow discharge does not mean that you definitely have a sinus infection or need antibiotics.
The best way to prevent sinusitis is to see your Holistic Chiropractor to enable your body to maintain balance so you do not get sinusitis. This requires a well-rounded, multifaceted approach when dealing with any health concern:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants and other chemicals that could boost your immune system and help your body resist infection.
- Avoid or quickly treat flus and colds.
- Reduce stress.
- Wash your hands often, particularly after shaking hands with others.
Other tips for preventing sinusitis:
- Avoid smoke and pollutants.
- Drink plenty of fluids to increase moisture in your body.
- Take decongestants during an upper respiratory infection.
- Treat allergies quickly and appropriately.
- Use a humidifier to increase moisture in your nose and sinuses.
- Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Evidence-based care guideline for management of acute bacterial sinusitis in children 1 to 18 years of age. Cincinnati (OH): Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; 2006.
- Chow AW, Benninger MS, Brook I, Brozek JL, Goldstein EJ, Hicks LA, et al. IDSA clinical practice guideline for acute bacterial rhinosinusitis in children and adults. Clin Infect Dis. 2012; 54:e72-e112.
- Rosenfeld RM, Andes D, Bhattacharyya N, Cheung D, Eisenberg S, Ganiats TG, et al. Clinical practice guideline: adult sinusitis. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2007;137:S1-S31.
To request an Action Plan to address Sinusitis Click Here
Dr. Huntoon has a single mission:
To support as many people as possible in their quest for health and enable them to improve and maintain their health to the highest level possible, while educating them about the benefits of Chiropractic, Natural Healthcare and Holistic Living, so they in turn can teach others to support us having a healthy community.
Health concerns are a major source of lost happiness and lost joy in all of our lives. Finding a solution that is agreeable and enables you to get back to your life is important. Please appreciate that you always have the more invasive surgery and prescription medication available to you as a last resort. What many Traditional Medical Doctors may not share is, many times, once you begin that journey into medication and/or surgery, it alters your original body from the one that you were born with. Unfortunately, at that time, more conservative and natural treatments may no longer be viable. I encourage you to consider that before making any decisions about treatment for your health. As always I am here to help.
- Continue doing the same thing and nothing changes or it may get worse
- Try something different and get a different result that makes you happier and healthier.
The Choice is Yours
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