The sinuses are air filled spaces in the bones that make up our skull that our connected to our nasal passages. They have similar lining to the rest of the nose. They have several functions, including circulating the air that we breathe in through our nose, moistening the air, and keeping our skulls lighter for our spine.
The sinuses have outflow channels, or tracts, that allows them to move circulate mucus into the nose. When their outflow tract gets blocked it leads to sinus pain. Once blocked, it allows bacteria to grow into the sinuses and progresses to bacterial sinusitis.
Causes of Sinus Infection
Conditions that can lead to sinus infections are any condition that narrows the sinus outflow tracts. This includes inflammation and swelling from viruses or allergies or chemical irritation, structural blockages including deviated septum, or blockage from a growth, most commonly nasal polyps. Sinus issues tend to run in families as well. Allergies are one of the most commons cause of sinus problems. We call allergic swelling in the nose allergic rhinitis.
Common Symptoms of Sinusitis
Sinus pain is one of the most common symptoms of a sinus issue. We have sinuses in our cheeks, between our eyes, our forehead, and further towards the back of our heads. As a result, pressure in these areas are very common in patient with sinus issues. Headaches, are common as well and take place anywhere from the forehead to the very back of our skulls. Sinus pain often radiates to other parts of our head. It is very common for sinus issues to include tooth and jaw pain, as well as tenderness to the nose or face.
We all get a stuffy nose from time to time. Patients with sinus issues have steady nasal congestion. The stuffy nose can be on one side only, alternating sides, or both at once. It is important to get checked with concerning nasal congestion as it can progress to a sinus infection quickly.
Mucus from the nose
Mucus in sinus disease ranges from thin and clear to very thick and opaque. From white, to yellow, to green. Its is also common to see blood in the mucus as well.
Can I prevent sinusitis?
Some sinus infections can be prevented with regular treatment by an ear, nose and throat physician. Sinus infections have the potential to be very dangerous and can progress to infections in your eye socket or brain. As a result, we recommend promptly seeing an ear nose and throat physician when you are experiencing signs and symptoms related to a sinus infection.
Is this allergies? A cold? A sinus infection? The weather?
A crucial part of the ear nose and throat visit is determining the origin of your sinus symptoms. The ENT doctor has a special piece of equipment that specifically allows us to see deep in your nose and visualize your sinuses more directly. This greatly helps delineate the true origin of your sinus issues. After that, you will work with your ENT to develop strategies to treat your symptoms, prevent them from recurring, and knowing what do should they return. Antibiotics are commonly given for signs of a sinus infection. An ENT doctor is best equipped to determine if antibiotics are truly necessary. Our goal is to minimize overuse of antibiotics to prevent developing resistent bacteria, while ensuring you get the treatment you need to feel better quickly and prevent complications.