The sinuses are small, air-filled cavities behind the cheekbones (maxillary sinus), in between the eyes (ethmoid sinuses), forehead (frontal sinuses) and base of the skull (sphenoid sinuses).
What are the Sinuses
The sinuses are small, air-filled cavities behind the cheekbones (maxillary sinus), in between the eyes (ethmoid sinuses), forehead (frontal sinuses) and base of the skull (sphenoid sinuses). The sinus lining is similar to nasal lining and produces mucus that is drained into the nose through tiny channels.
What is Sinusitis
Sinusitis is inflammation and infection of the sinus lining, resulting in blockage of the mucus drainage, causing the sinuses to fill up with mucous that may get severely infected and form pus.
Signs and Symptoms of sinusitis
Sinusitis usually occurs after an upper respiratory tract infection, such as a cold.
Symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Green or yellow discharge from the nose
- Blocked nose
- Pain and tenderness around the cheeks, eyes or forehead
- Sinus headache
- High temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or more
- Discomfort and pain in the teeth
- Altered or a reduced sense of smell
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Children with sinusitis may be irritable, breathe through their mouth, and have difficulty feeding
- These symptoms may last for few weeks to months and in some cases, may become chronic
How sinusitis is treated
- Often sinusitis resolves within two or three weeks with general care at home such as steam inhalation and decongestant nasal sprays. The use of nasal decongestants should be restricted to one week
- Regular cleaning the inside of the nose with saline solution is recommended (nasal douching)
- Use of antibiotics if symptoms worsen or do not improve
- If persistent, an opinion from an ENT specialist for surgery to improve the drainage of the sinuses should be considered
What causes chronic sinusitis
The following conditions predispose to chronic sinusitis:
- Inadequate treatment of initial sinusitis
- Allergies and related conditions, including allergic rhinitis, asthma and hayfever
- Nasal polyps (growths inside the nose)
- Weakened immune system
Making sure underlying conditions such as allergies and asthma are well controlled may improve the symptoms of chronic sinusitis.
About sinus surgery
- In recent years there have been great improvements in sinus surgery
- The principle is minimally invasive surgery, to establish drainage of sinus mucus into the nose, and ventilate the sinuses, preserving the lining
- The surgery is done using fine endoscopes, connected to monitors
- A CT scan is essential for any surgery
- Balloon sinuplasty is sometimes an option
- The procedure is done under a general anaesthetic, often as a day case procedure