Acute Sinusitis

Information on the causes of acute sinusitis symptoms.

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  1. What is Acute Sinusitis?
  2. What Causes Acute Sinusitis?
  3. Diagnosing Acute Sinusitis
  4. Help for Acute Sinusitis
  5. More Information on Acute Sinusitis

What is Acute Sinusitis?

Acute sinusitis is a form of sinusitis that is triggered by a viral or bacterial infection. It tends to be very uncomfortable and painful, and often happens when you least expect it. 0ne minute you are feeling fine and breathing easily and the next minute, you have a killer sinus headache.

This condition is common and many people experience it after a cold. The cold virus causes the nasal passages to become swollen and inflamed making drainage difficult, and as a result, mucus builds up. Nasal congestion also makes breathing difficult, which causes discomfort; this mucus that is clogged in your sinuses then becomes a breeding ground for bacteria leading to a bacteria infection.

An episode of acute sinusitis usually develops quickly and usually lasts for about 7-10 days. However, in some cases, it is not unusual for acute sinusitis to persist for as long as 8 weeks. If left untreated, acute sinusitis can lead to serious complications.

Signs and Symptoms of Acute Sinusitis

The most common symptoms and signs of acute sinusitis include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Pain, swelling and tenderness around the forehead, eyes, nose and cheeks
  • Runny nose or drainage of thick, greenish-yellow down the nose or back of the throat
  • Toothache and upper jaw pain
  • Coughing, which may worsen at night

Other symptoms which may occur include a high temperature (fever), ear pain, bad breath, sore throat, fatigue, snoring, reduced sense of smell and taste, and irritability.

What Causes Acute Sinusitis?

The sinuses are spaces in the skull (behind the forehead, nasal bones, cheeks, and eyes) and are lined with mucous membranes. Ideally, the sinuses contain no bacteria or other germs, and they are easily able to drain and air through the nasal passages is able to circulate. When the sinus openings become blocked or too much mucus builds up from a viral infection, bacteria and other germs can easily grow, thus causing an infection in the sinus cavities. Acute sinusitis is triggered usually after having a viral infection such as a cold or flu.

Other Causes of Acute Sinusitis

Acute sinusitis isn’t only contracted through a viral infection; it can also be caused by other factors, such as:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Allergies, such as hay fever
  • Tooth infection
  • Nasal polyps, deviated septum or tumors
  • Enlarged or infected adenoids
  • Exposure to pollutants such as cigarette smoke, pollution or chemical fumes
  • Swimming or diving

Certain medical conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, or immune disorders can increase your risk of getting acute sinusitis.

Diagnosing Acute Sinusitis

The diagnosis of acute sinusitis is based on symptoms, a thorough physical examination and sometimes a review of your medical history. Certain diagnostic tests such as a nasal endoscopy, nasal and sinus cultures, CT scan, MRI or allergy tests may be performed to determine the diagnosis of acute sinusitis.

Help for Acute Sinusitis

There are a number of treatment options to help relieve the symptoms of acute sinusitis. Very often, a visit to the doctor is not needed as most episodes of acute sinusitis are caused by a viral infection, which can easily be treated at home.

Other Treatments for Acute Sinusitis

Conventional Treatments

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen will help to ease pain and bring down a fever. Decongestant nasal spray or drops can also relieve a blocked nose but avoid using these medications for longer than five days, as recurring congestion will occur. Remember to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water and juice. Rinse out your nasal passages with a saline solution to clear up your sinuses. If your symptoms are very severe, a course of antibiotics may be prescribed.


More Information on Acute Sinusitis

Tips for Coping with Acute Sinusitis

Acute sinusitis can be very troublesome for people of all ages; however, there are several things that you can do to reduce the symptoms of acute sinusitis.

  • Drink lots of fluids such as water and juice, which prevents congestion, drains the mucus and increases moisture in the body
  • Rest as much as possible to fight off the infection and speed recovery
  • Eat a healthy, well balanced diet that contains plenty of vegetables and fruit to boost the immune system
  • Inhale steam by leaning over a bowl of hot water for a few minutes to loosen mucus and moisten the throat
  • Apply warm compresses to your face to relieve facial pain
  • Use a humidifier in your home to moisten the air
  • Attach filters to heaters and air conditioners to remove allergens from the air
  • Avoid cigarette smoke and other air pollutants which aggravates the sinus lining
  • Control your allergies by getting regular allergy shots
  • Practice good hygiene habits by washing hands thoroughly with water and soap
  • Avoid contact with people who have colds and flu
  • Avoid air travel and swimming in chlorinated pools
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