What is sinusitis?
What are the sinuses
Sinuses are air-filled cavities in the skull covered with surface layer very similar to the bronchial tube layer. They have the following two functions:
- Lighten the weight: they release weight of skull.
- Improve the conditions of air inhaled through the nose before it reaches the lungs: This occurs in several ways:
- Producing a series of secretions designed to trap harmful substances inhaled through the nose (Germs, spores, dust, fungi, etc) Harmful substances are poured back into the throat and into the stomach where they are destroyed by gastric juice.
- Warm and humidify the inhaled air.
How many sinuses are there?
The sinuses are formed by:
- The frontal sinus which is located beneath the forehead.
- The sphenoidal sinus placed under the bridge of the nose.
- Below this, we would have the ethmoid sinus.
- The maxillary sinuses are placed on both sides of the nose, in what would be the cheekbones
- and the mastoid sinus are located behind the ears.
They all communicate with the nose, except the mastoid sinus communicating with the ears that have the function to drain the middle ear.
Characteristics of sinusitis
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses. Because of several reasons the epithelium or mucous membrane lining these bone cavities swollen and fill with mucus.
The lack of drainage of the sinuses causes a very characteristic feeling of weight-pain produced by the increased volume of secretions and inflammation or irritation of the mucous membrane.
Secretions become too abundant because a blockage of openings that connect the sinuses with the nose occurs. This blockage is produced because of an overproduction of secretions caused by irritation of the mucosa, or because of the inability of moving the secretions towards nose. The later case is given by the lack of motility of the cilia (tiny hairs in the sinuses responsible for expelling the excessive secretion.)
Many inhaled microorganisms can take advantage of this humid and warm atmosphere to produce an infection called sinusitis. Many organisms pass from the sinus to the throat and respiratory tracts producing many infections or worsening some previous illnesses. Sinus infections must be treated and solved. On the contrary, they constitute a ” cultivation broth”for future infections.
Types of sinusitis
There are two types of sinusitis:
- Acute sinusitis: it is the one that arises unexpectedly and lasts less than two months.
- Chronic sinusitis: is one that has a recurring character and last longer than two months.
Symptoms of sinusitis
The main symptoms of sinusitis are:
- Headache, especially when we bowed our heads
- Sinus pain
- Tooth pain
- Heaviness in the bones of the nose between the eyes
- Nasal breathing difficulty
- Weight on the bones of the cheeks
- Stuffy nose
- Yellow-green discharge
- Feeling that the nose drips into the throat
- Lack of sense of smell,
- Fever, chills, etc.
Causes of sinusitis
The main causes of sinusitis are:
- Some diseases caused by microorganisms (bacteria, viruses and fungi) related to the sinuses: common cold, flu, allergies, asthma, etc. The increasing secretions in the sinuses and the subsequent contamination or infection by microorganisms will produce the inflammation of this area.
- Inhalation of noxious substances: Among these we could include polluted air, gases, drugs (Tobacco, cocaine, amphetamines, etc.) or nasal decongestants used too often or for too long period.
- Teeth, gums or jaws in a bad state: They are responsible for most cases of inflammation occurring in the maxillary sinus.
- Hypoglycemia: When the level of blood sugar is low, sinuses are typically inflamed.
- Suddenly changes in pressure: This normally occurs when traveling by airplanes, among skin divers or when we ascend or descend a mountain quickly.
- Objects in the nose: They can result from accident, most often in children, or as a result of a hospital examination. The growth of bumps on the nose, such as polyps or tumors, is another reason, although not very common.
- Diseases affecting cilia motility: These include cystic fibrosis or diseases of the cilia themselves as immotile cilia syndrome.
- Defects in the nasal septum: Nasal septum deviation is another reason that usually produces sinusitis.
Tips to prevent or improve sinusitis
Among the main ones we have the following:
- Drink plenty of fluids: in the form of water or juice. People with sinusitis should drink at least a couple of liters of water daily which would help to liquefy mucus.
- Avoid polluted environments: Places with a lot of smoke, dust or air pollutants are not suitable for these patients.
- Humidify the atmosphere: A dry atmosphere is not suitable. You can increase humidity at home or at workplace by placing some dishes with water or by using humidifiers.
- Dip the nostrils with warm water compresses will improve your symptoms. Very hot showers evaporate a lot of steam which, being inhaled, is very beneficial for people with sinusitis.
- Don’t abuse of inhalers. These, ultimately, become counterproductive.
- Wash well your nostrils: To do this you can use special devices sold in drugstores or use water with salt in a bowl. Cleaning the nostrils should also include good nose blowing every day. You should not blow both nostrils at once. It is good practice to do it daily in the shower when the nose is well moistened.
Treatment of sinusitis
The treatment of sinusitis is aimed at eradicating the causes underlying this disease and reducing inflammation. This treatment usually includes antibiotics to eliminate microorganisms and use of inhalers to reduce inflammation.
In chronic cases, there could be the need for surgery for sinus lavage, removal of polyps or a deviated nasal septum arrangement.
More information about sinusitis.
19 June, 2020