If you’ve ever experienced a sinus infection or inflammation, then you are probably no stranger to how painful, stressful, and uncomfortable the symptoms can make you feel. It’s quite normal to develop a sinus infection or experience sinus-related symptoms occasionally. But if you’re the lucky 1 out of every 7 adults who experience persistent or frequent sinus symptoms, you may actually have sinusitis.
Types of Sinusitis
Sinusitis is not a symptom but a condition. Though signs often come and go without warning, most people have one of the following types:
Acute sinusitis is temporary, and develops when the membranes inside the nose, sinus cavities, and sometimes the throat become inflamed, usually from recent virus, bacteria, or airborne irritants exposure, or allergies. As the mucosa in the sinuses and nose swell, less air passes through, increasing the amount of pressure and thickness of mucus inside. Acute sinusitis infections typically resolve within several days to a week after symptoms start.
Chronic sinusitis, also known as recurrent acute rhinosinusitis, is similar to acute sinus infections, but the primary difference is symptoms occur more frequently or worsen before going away after 10 to 12 weeks or recur at least three times within a rolling 12-month period.
Common Causes of Sinusitis
The most common symptoms associated with sinus infections are headaches, nasal congestion, fever, throat irritation, and cognitive and sleeping problems. Because these issues are similar to those caused by the common cold, flu, COVD, and other mild upper respiratory infections, it’s not easy to pinpoint the exact cause of recurring symptoms. But in most cases, the following culprits are to blame:
1. Allergies, environmental irritants, and dry air
Many people prone to sinus infections have allergies and are sensitive to substances and particles in the air they breathe. The most common offenders include pet dander, dust, strong scents, dust mites, mold, etc. While it’s not possible to eliminate airborne allergens and environmental irritants, it is possible to minimize the amount to avoid triggering sinusitis infections.
Treatment is the most effective way to alleviate recurring sinus infections. However, reducing the number of airborne irritants and limiting exposure to allergens are beneficial in making sinusitis symptoms more manageable. Many people are living with sinusitis benefit from upgrading their ventilation systems, using air purification units, and dusting and cleaning their indoor environments more often.
2. Deviated septum
Surprisingly, many people have some degree of septum deviation due to birth abnormalities or injury. Septum deviations are not usually visible from the outside of the nose. Fortunately, most never realize it until they develop persistent or severe issues breathing through their nose from congestion or sinus infections. Sinusitis that occurs from structural septum abnormalities don’t normally respond to conventional therapeutics and remedies. The most effective treatment for septum-related sinusitis is surgery. Without proper and timely treatment, a deviated septum can lead to more severe sinus infection symptoms and serious medical conditions like snoring, sleep apnea, and respiratory distress.
3. Nasal polyps
Nasal polyps are small, abnormal growths that develop in the sinuses or nose. These swollen tissues are not always noticeable until they cause pain, start to bleed, or become so large they interfere with proper mucus drainage and airflow. Many people with nasal polyps experience severe headaches, pressure buildup, frequent nosebleeds, and sinusitis.
Sometimes, these swellings go away on their own. But usually, medications or surgery are necessary to shrink or remove the polyps to clear the nostrils to restore normal mucus drainage and breathing function. Nasal polyps are more common in adults. Without proper treatment, recurrence is likely.
4. Hypertrophied turbinates
Inside the nose are turbinates that filter contaminants and irritants from the air we breathe. These structures also moisturize the air before it enters the respiratory tract and lungs. When these bony shelves are overwhelmed by bacteria, germs, viruses, and other airborne substances, they grow larger and become inflamed, and their function becomes compromised.
Enlarged turbinates are a common cause of sinus infections and nasal congestion that can lead to headaches, facial pain, trouble sleeping, eating, smelling, and additional discomfort.
5. Nasal congestion
Usually, one of the first signs that indicate potential abnormal activity in the sinus cavities is a stuffy nose. Congestion can partially or completely obstruct the nostrils and prevent airflow. Congestion develops when the mucosa, the thin layer of moist tissues that line the nasal and sinus cavities and moisturize the air you breathe become irritated or infected.
They retain mucus instead of allowing it to drain. The mucus trapped inside become thicker and can start to change color as the infection advances. This can make it difficult for anyone to breathe normally and easily. These issues are often attributed to allergies and other conditions. Many people who experience severe or persistent nasal congestion develop persistent and severely debilitating sinus infection symptoms that require medical attention for relief.
Is Sinusitis Treatment Right for You?
Anyone experiencing sinus symptoms that won’t stay away or that become worse should contact our sinusitis specialist at the Southern California Sinus Institute – Dr. Alen Cohenfor treatment and relief.
Dr. Cohen routinely performs in-office balloon sinuplasty, turbinate reductions, septoplasty, and polypectomy in-office to make it easier for patients to breathe freely, without sinus symptoms.
Make time to schedule a consultation with Dr. Cohen so you can discuss your sinusitis, breathing, and nasal congestion concerns and how sinusitis treatment can provide the relief you seek.