Everything You Need to Know About Sinusitis
Before turning our attention towards treatment, it’s important to have a full understanding of what sinusitis is and what it isn’t. With that in mind, we’ve put together a helpful guide on all things sinusitis-related.
What is Sinusitis?
The first thing we need to do is define exactly what sinusitis is. There is a world of misunderstanding around this sinus condition, largely due to the multiple types of sinusitis (more on this in just a moment). Sinusitis is the inflammation of sinus tissue. This includes the mucosa membranes and turbinates. It can occur in any of the sinus cavities – frontal sinus, ethmoid sinus, sphenoid sinus, and maxillary sinus.
What are the Different Types?
There are four main types of sinusitis. They’re distinguished from each other based on how long the inflammation lasts. The different kinds of sinusitis are:
- Acute Sinusitis – lasting from one day to four weeks
- Subacute Sinusitis – lasting from four to twelve weeks
- Chronic Sinusitis – lasting longer than twelve weeks
- Recurrent Sinusitis – four or more instances of sinusitis within a year
Fungal sinusitis is inflammation and infection of the sinuses due to certain types of fungus. This is much more than the other types, but does exist.
What Causes Sinusitis?
Much like other nasal, allergy, and sinus issues, there are a wide variety of factors that can cause and contribute to the development of a sinus infection. These include:
- Viral Infections – like the common cold
- Bacterial Infections
- Allergies – this includes allergic rhinitis
- Physical Conditions – a deviated septum and other nasal deformities
- Changes in Air Pressure, Temperature, and Humidity
- Nasal Polyps
- Nasal Irritants – this includes dust, smoke, etc.
- A Weakened or Compromised Immune System – this can be caused by poor sleep habits, stress, and other related factors
- Swimming – chlorine often irritates the sinuses and diving can cause a sudden and extreme pressure change in your sinuses
- Rhinitis Medicamentosa (RM) – sometimes called “rebound congestion,” this is a type of sinus inflammation caused by overusing nasal decongestants
Sinus infections caused by viruses or bacteria are by far the most common catalysts of sinusitis. These conclusions are mostly generalized, but it’s safe to say that the vast majority of cases are caused by an infection of some sort.
Common Sinusitis Symptoms
Sinusitis symptoms often mask themselves as symptoms of other illnesses. It can be difficult for the average person to tell if they’re suffering from a sinus infection or, say, the common cold. For this reason, we suggest you always consult with an Otolaryngologist or Rhinologist.
Common symptoms include:
- Pressure in the Sinus Area – cheeks, nose, between the eyes, and “in” the forehead
- Pain in the Sinus Area
- Green or Otherwise Discolored Nasal Discharge
- Runny Nose
- Postnasal Drip
- Reduced Sense of Taste and Smell
- Bad Breath
- Tooth Pain
Now that you know a bit more about sinus infections, including how to differentiate between acute and chronic sinusitis, it’s time to look at how to get relief!
At-Home Symptom Relief
There are many ways you can reduce frustrating and uncomfortable sinus infection symptoms in your home. Three of the most popular solutions are nasal washes, over-the-counter decongestants, and natural remedies. While these can offer immediate relief, it’s important to remember that they mask the symptoms rather than treat the underlying cause of sinusitis. Receiving chronic sinusitis treatment from a medical professional simultaneously treats the cause and offers the most effective outcomes.
Nasal washes often called neti pots, are a way of using fluid to help flush out your sinuses. They work by introducing saline solution or sterilized water – always use sterilized or distilled water – into your nasal cavity and clearing away built-up mucus. This helps you breathe better, as well as reduce congestion.
Prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can temporarily relieve some of the symptoms associated with sinusitis. Common medications include:
Although all of these are different medications, and they work in different ways, they share many similarities. Nasal decongestants work by reducing inflammation and allowing your sinuses to drain. Antihistamines work by blocking your body’s production of histamines, which cause many sinusitis symptoms. Steroids and corticosteroids work by decreasing swelling and inflammation.
You shouldn’t use decongestants for more than a handful of days. Overuse can lead to the rebound congestion mentioned above.
There are a host of natural remedies that help reduce chronic sinusitis symptoms. While they don’t provide the same long-lasting relief that medical sinusitis treatment offers, they’re useful in a pinch. Natural remedies include:
- Humidifiers – You want your home to have the right amount of humidity (between 30 percent and 50 percent). Using a humidifier can help, but make sure you only use distilled water, change the water regularly, and clean the humidifier often
- Quercetin – This is a naturally occurring flavonoid found in a lot of plants. It can help decrease inflammation and may also stimulate the release of histamines
- Essential Oils – Lavender, tea tree, and eucalyptus oil have anti-inflammatory properties
- Warm Compress – This can help reduce pain and pressure
- Bromelain – Bromelain is a natural supplement made of several pineapple enzymes. It’s been shown to help reduce sinus infection symptoms, according to a study from Laryngoscope
You can also try lifestyle changes to help reduce the symptoms of chronic sinusitis. Lifestyle changes include things like:
- Avoid Smoking – this also applies to secondhand smoke and smoke from grills, bonfires, etc.
- Sleep in a New Position – elevate your head around four inches at night to help gravity drain your sinuses naturally
- Hydrate Properly – remember to always drink enough water!
- Eat Immune-Boosting Foods – think honey from local bees, vitamin C, ginger, garlic, etc.
- Minimize Changes in Air Pressure – this includes flying, diving into a pool, hiking or climbing a hill or mountain, and other activities that can affect your sinuses
The Most Effective Chronic Sinusitis Treatment Options
We’re proud to offer multiple innovative and effective sinusitis treatment choices at South Florida Sinus and Allergy. Learn more about them below and don’t hesitate to give us a call today at (954) 983-1211 to schedule your appointment!
Innovative Diagnostic Testing
Your path to sinus health starts with an accurate diagnosis and individualized treatment plan. This is where our innovative diagnostic testing becomes an invaluable step.
While chronic sinusitis is simple enough to diagnose, it’s important that Dr. Mandel and his team get a detailed picture of your sinuses. We accomplish this by performing a nasal endoscopy and Ultra-Low Dose CT scan. The nasal endoscopy lets Dr. Mandel see exactly what’s going on inside your nasal and sinus passages. The CT scan allows him to understand if any anatomical or other potential issues are present. The combination results in the most accurate and comprehensive testing protocol in South Florida!
Balloon Sinuplasty is a minimally invasive sinusitis treatment option. It involves Dr. Mandel inserting a small balloon catheter into your nasal cavity. This opens your airways and creates a permanent drainage system for your sinus passages.
Your Balloon Sinuplasty is performed in our Level III state-certified procedure room. You’ll receive IV sedation from one of our Board-Certified anesthesiologists. The entire process can take as little as 15 minutes, and you’ll start noticing results right away. The best part is that there’s minimal recovery time.
Allergy Treatment and Sinusitis Relief
If your chronic sinusitis is caused by allergies, then you’re going to want to treat them effectively in order to start breathing easier. We offer a range of allergy testing and immunotherapy designed to help you make allergies a thing of the past. These range from Dr. Mandel’s proprietary testing methods (a combination of skin pricks and intradermal testing) to the revolutionary Oral Mucosal Immunotherapy.
Now that you know what chronic sinusitis is, and how South Florida Sinus and Allergy Center is redefining sinusitis treatment, it’s time you got the full benefit of our decades of experience! Call us today at (954) 983-1211 to schedule an appointment or learn more. You can also request an appointment conveniently online!