Sinusitis, or “sinus”, is simply an inflammation or swelling of the sinuses surrounding the nose.
In most cases the swelling is due to infection and can be classified as either acute or chronic, the latter if it has persisted for longer than 3 months. Sinus problems are one of the leading causes of visits to the doctor, accounting for over 16 million doctor visits annually.
Living with one sinus infection after another can be miserable, interfering with both work and life at home. What people need to understand is that sinusitis is easy to prevent and treat.
What are sinuses?: Your sinuses are a maze of air-filled cavities located under your cheek bones (maxillary), between your eyes (ethmoid), behind the nose (sphenoid) and above your eyebrows (frontal). These cavities are lined with nasal mucous membranes having millions of tiny hair-like extensions called “cilia”. The small amount of fluid made within the sinus is swept out through a small opening into the nose by movement of the cilia. Once the fluid is in the nose it is then swallowed as post-nasal drainage into the stomach.
When the nose is congested or stuffy two things happen: 1) mucous membranes in the sinuses also swell keeping the cilia from working properly, and 2) the opening into the nose where sinus fluid normally passes becomes blocked by the nasal swelling. Both of these events disrupt sinus drainage allowing fluid to accumulate causing pressure and/or pain. The mucus builds up, and bacteria and viruses multiply, causing sinus infections
Symptoms: The symptoms of an acute sinus infection are pretty obvious: fever, severe sinus area pain, teeth pain, and yellow or green post-nasal drainage. On the other hand, a chronic sinus infection without proper treatment, can linger for months, causing one or more of the following symptoms: stuffy nose, intermittent yellow or green nasal drainage (maybe only seen in the shower), occasional sinus area pressure or headache, bad breath, decreased sense of taste and smell, earaches, fatigue, and coughing, especially with lying down. The pain in your sinuses may get worse when you bend over or cough, or it may intensify in the evening, making a good night’s rest nearly impossible.