Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)
Table of Contents
- Sinus infection or sinusitis facts
- What is a sinus?
- 18 signs and symptoms of sinus infection or sinusitis
- What is a sinus infection or sinusitis?
- What causes sinus infections or sinusitis?
- What are the types of sinusitis and sinus infections?
- How is sinus infection or sinusitis diagnosed?
- What kinds of doctors treat sinusitis and sinus infections?
- Are antibiotics necessary to treat sinus infections and sinusitis?
- What decongestants and nasal sprays soothe or cure sinus infections or sinusitis?
- What home remedies help soothe sinus infection or sinusitis symptoms?
- What are complications of sinus infection or sinusitis?
- Can sinus infection or sinusitis be prevented?
What causes sinus infections or sinusitis?
Sinus infections or sinusitis may be caused by anything that interferes with airflow into the sinuses and the drainage of mucus out of the sinuses. The sinus openings (ostea) may be blocked by swelling of the tissue lining and adjacent nasal passage tissue, for example with
- common colds,
- allergies, and
- tissue irritants such as OTC nasal sprays, cocaine, and cigarette smoke.
Other causes of sinus infections or sinusitis
Tumors or growths also can block the sinuses if they are near the sinus openings.
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Dehydration, disease, drying medications, and lack of sufficient humidity can cause sinusitis or sinus infection.The drainage of mucous from the sinuses can also be impaired by thickening of the mucous secretions, by decrease in hydration (water content) of the mucous brought on by disease (for example, cystic fibrosis), drying medications (antihistamines), and lack of sufficient humidity in the air. The epithelial cells have small hair-like fibers, called cilia, which move back and forth to help the mucus move out of the sinuses. These small cilia may be damaged by many irritants, especially smoke. This can prevent them from assisting the mucus in draining from the sinuses, and thus results in sinus infections or sinusitis.
Stagnated mucus provides an environment for bacteria, viruses and in some circumstances, (for example, AIDS or immunodepressed persons) fungus, to grow within the sinus cavities. In addition, the microbes themselves can initiate and exacerbate sinus blockage. The most commonly infected sinuses are the maxillary and ethmoid sinuses.
Rarely, immunodepressed or victims of multiple traumas in disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tornadoes may breathe in fungi from the soil or water. Eventually, in a few days to over a week, the fungi can grow and cut off blood supply to almost any type of tissue, especially in the nose and eyes. These infections, although rare, are serious and can be deadly and require immediate medical and surgical care. Although the fungal infection may resemble common bacterial sinusitis initially, it is a disease termed zygomycosis or mucormycosis.
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