A sinusitis infection is reflecting from symptoms of sinus very common all over the world. In the USA alone, there are 31 million cases every year. What a sinus infection does to you is that it blocks your nasal passages and sinuses, and they get inflamed. This inflammation in the medical world is known as sinusitis.
The sinuses are small pockets of air located behind your nose, forehead, cheekbones, and between your eyes. What a sinus does is that it produces a thin liquid called mucus, which is produced to protect the body from bacteria and other germs. Bacteria or certain germs may create too much mucus and block your sinuses. Hence the mucus becomes thick, and bacteria and other germs start storing up in your cavity and increase the risk of a bacterial infection. This is in short what a sinus is, let us now learn more about it.
What is sinusitis?
The inflammation of the sinuses caused by a bacterial infection is known as sinusitis. This infection usually occurs in people with a weak immune system. People with allergies can also have an infection, which could lead to sinusitis.
Different types of Sinus Infections
There are mainly three different types of Sinus Infections. Namely:
There are many reasons as to why acute sinusitis might occur. It could be due to seasonal allergies, which affect a lot of people. A bacterial infection can also cause this type of sinusitis. Diseases like the common cold can also be the reason. Overall acute sinusitis has the shortest duration, which lasts about 1 to 2 weeks on average. If a bacterial infection causes acute sinusitis, this could last up to four weeks.
This type of sinusitis is mainly caused by seasonal allergies or bacterial infection. This type of sinusitis lasts for about three months.
If you have a nasal problem or allergies, this type of sinusitis can occur. However, it is not as severe as the ones mentioned above but can last more than three months. Bacterial infections can also cause this type of sinusitis.
Will you ever have a sinus infection?
To be very honest, anybody can have a sinus infection. It is not hereditary, so if your parents have a sinus infection, it does not necessarily mean you will have a sinus infection too. However, certain health factors can increase your risk of developing a sinus infection. Let us learn about them:
- A nasal septum which is deviated: There is a wall of tissues inside your nose separating your left and right nostrils. If that wall of tissue due to some reason displaces to one side, there is an increased risk of sinusitis.
- Sinusitis can also occur if, for some reason, there is an abrupt nasal bone growth.
- Sinusitis can also occur if noncancerous nasal polyps are growing in your nose.
- If you have a history of allergies, sinusitis will definitely haunt you.
- When you came in contact with mold recently, you might have an increased risk of sinusitis.
- If your immune system is weak, then there might be a chance you might get sinusitis.
- When you smoke tobacco
- If you had a respiratory infection recently, then there is a chance for sinusitis as well.
- You can also have cystic fibrosis, which could increase your chances of having sinusitis. Cystic fibrosis is a condition where thick mucus grows inside your lungs.
- If you travel in an airplane which could expose you to a very high amount of germs.
Symptoms of sinus
Now that we know what a sinus infection is and what can potentially cause a sinus infection, let us now learn how you can tell whether you have a sinus infection. The symptoms are very similar to the common cold and hence sometimes are confused with the common cold.
- You will probably lose the ability to smell, or it will decrease than your usual smelling sense.
- You might have a fever, although it does not raise a lot.
- Your nose might either be very runny or blocked. Depends on the mucus concentration inside your nose.
- One of the most common symptoms of sinus is a headache that happens in almost all sinus infection cases. The headache can sometimes be very severe.
- You might feel fatigued and tired.
- A sinus infection is also followed by coughing, although it is not dry coughing, which is a symptom for COVID-19.
Now for children, it can be a bit difficult to understand if they have sinus infection or not. Look for these following symptoms:
- If your child is having allergic or cold symptoms that do not get better within 14 days, your child might have a sinus infection.
- If your child is running a very high fever. High fever is usually in the range of a 102 degree F or 39-degree celsius.
- If our child has thick mucus in his or her nose.
- If he or she is continuously coughing for more than ten days.
Now, as mentioned above, there are e different types of Sinus infections, such as Acute, subacute, and chronic. The symptoms for all kinds of Sinus infection are the same, but the longevity and severity of the symptoms may vary.
How do you diagnose a Sinus Infection?
If you feel sick and see that your symptoms match with the sinus infection symptoms, you should get yourself checked from a doctor. A doctor will first do some physical tests on you. The doctor will check how tender your cheeks and head is by applying pressure. This is done to check if you are having any inflammation or not. The doctor will also check inside your nasal cavity to check for inflammations. If by doing a physical test, the doctor is quite certain that you have a sinus infection; he or she will write a prescription accordingly.
In some cases, a physical test does not reveal the full picture, like in the case of a chronic sinus infection. In such a situation, many imaging tests are done to check your sinuses and nasal passages. The purpose of these tests is to see whether you have any abnormal growth of structures like Polyp or any mucus blockages or not. Some of these scans are a CT scan or an MRI. What a CT scan does is that it shows a 3D output of your sinuses. On the other hand, an MRI scan will reveal an image of all your internal structures using powerful magnets.
Sometimes doctors also use something called a fiberoptic scope and do a test called a nasal endoscopy. The fiberoptic scope is a tube that has a light on it. The doctor will insert this scope inside your nose to see the formation of mucus and if there is any infection or not.
A doctor might also have you test for an allergy test to check if the sinus infection is caused due to some allergy or not. In case the doctor thinks that the sinus infection is caused due to your weak immune system, he or she may ask you to opt for an HIV test.
How to treat a sinus Infection?
There are several methods by which a sinus infection can be cured. Like:
When you come in contact with a sinus infection, nasal congestion is one of the first symptoms. Now, this sinus pressure can cause you a lot of pain. To relieve yourself from the pain, you can inhale hot steam, or apply a damp but warm cloth on your forehead and face several times. Do saline rinses in your nasal area to clear your nose of any excess mucus. It is essential to stay hydrated throughout the day; hence you must drink lots of water and maybe even fruit juice. This will help thin out the mucus inside your body. You can also keep a humidifier inside your bedroom, which will increase the moisture in the air, which will help you get some relief. You can turn on the geyser and take a warm shower. This will also help you feel better.
A sinus infection can cause a lot of pain. It can cause a headache and even pain in our forehead or your cheeks. So to reduce this pain, you can take painkillers. Painkillers are bad for health, so you should not take more than one tablet per day.
If the symptoms you are facing are: fever, runny nose, eye swelling, headache, cough, congestion, facial pain, and these symptoms do not decrease, and your condition does not improve after a few weeks, then you probably have a bacterial infection. In such a situation you must visit a doctor who specializes in this. The doctor will probably ask you to take antibacterial medication. The response time for the medicine can extend anywhere between 3 to 14 days. You must complete the dosage as suggested by your doctor. If you stop having your medicines just because you feel good before your doctor suggested, it is highly likely that the bacterial infection will not go away and come back again after some time.
If no medications work and your sinus infection are not going away for months, surgery is the only option you have left. Surgery can be conducted to clear out your sinuses, to remove polyps or to repair a septum which has been deviated.
How to prevent symptoms of sinus?
Usually, a sinus infection occurs because of other diseases like common cold, influenza, flu, or maybe because of a seasonal allergic reaction. To prevent a sinus infection altogether, you must follow a healthy lifestyle. You mustn’t come in contact with any germs or viruses. Apart from this, you can do the following:
- Every year, try to get a flu vaccine from your family doctor.
- Incorporate green leafy vegetables in your regular diet. You should also eat healthy foods.
- Sanitize and wash your hands with soap at an interval of a few hours.
Differences between Covid-19 and Sinusitis
As the Coronavirus pandemic at an all-time high worldwide, people have been worrying to death every time they are sneezing or coughing. People must remember that just because Coronavirus exists now does not mean that other diseases vanished. Just because you have a fever does not mean you have Coronavirus. Yes, there are a few symptoms shared between Coronavirus and Sinusitis, but then again, there are differences in symptoms.
Let us take a quick look at the common symptoms of sinus and COVID-19:
- In both cases, there are chances of fever.
- There might be coughs in both cases, but in the case of COVID-19, the cough is dry. If you have sinusitis, you will have mucus with the cough.
- You might have a headache in both cases.
- Nasal congestion is also frequent in both situations.
- Soreness in the throat can also occur.
These are the common symptoms between Covid-19 and sinusitis. Now the thing is, we have already taught you the symptoms of sinusitis. So if you have any symptoms on the common list but are not on the sinusitis symptoms list, then you probably have Coronavirus. If you just have the common symptoms and are worried you have Coronavirus, please calm down because most likely, you do not have Coronavirus.
In any case, you must wash your hands or sanitize them regularly to be safe. Also, do not forget to wear a mask.
A sinus infection is very much curable and not a threat to your life. Although, you must be get it treated as soon as possible. Do not let it fester because otherwise, a normal sinus infection can lead to something very dangerous. You never know you might have something like polyps growing inside you, and if kept untreated, you can become life-threatening.