Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Managing and Treating Sinus Conditions

Sinuses are the hollow cavities located within your cheekbones, around your eyes, and behind your nose. They contain mucus that helps to filter the air you breathe. While seemingly harmless, sinuses can wreak havoc when inflammation or a blockage occurs, often resulting in infection.

What are the signs of a sinus infection, also called sinusitis?

Sinusitis is one of the most common health conditions. Symptoms include:

Thick nasal discharge, yellow-green in color
Postnasal drip
Pain in teeth
Pain and/or swelling in face or eyes

What causes a sinus infection?

A sinus infection may start as a common cold, but can turn into a viral or bacterial infection. Other causes or factors may include:

Nasal polyps
Deviated septum
Immune system deficiency

What is the difference between an acute sinus infection and a chronic one?

An acute infection typically lasts less than 4 weeks. Chronic sinusitis can go on for more than 12 weeks, despite medical treatment.

Do all sinus infections require an antibiotic?

According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), not all sinus infections require an antibiotic. Those caused by viral infections don’t necessarily require an antibiotic; sinus infections caused by bacterial infections usually require an antibiotic for treatment.

The ISDA warns that an overuse of antibiotics can result in the development of superbugs that are resistant to medication and cautions individuals about taking antibiotics unnecessarily.

Is there a difference between sinusitis and rhinitis?

Rhinitis, inflammation of the mucus membrane of the nasal passages, usually occurs before sinusitis. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, there is a close relationship between sinusitis and rhinitis. As a result, sinusitis is often referred to as rhinosinusitis.

What are some treatment options for sinus problems?

1. Home remedies:  Try breathing in hot, moist air for relief. Also, washing the nasal cavities with salt water and/or a neti pot may be useful. Check out this FDA report on neti pots for safe use.  Experts also recommend keeping the humidity in your home at an appropriate level, as dryness can be irritating to sinuses.
2. Medications: Your doctor may suggest a decongestant to control allergies and/or steroid nasal spray. Once an infection has developed, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. Remember: if you need to fill a prescription your doctor has given you, use your FamilyWize Discount Prescription Drug Card for maximum savings.
3. Surgery: In some cases, home care and medications are not successful. A new procedure, called balloon sinuplasty, stretches the sinuses ten times wider, allowing fluid to drain properly. This procedure can be performed in a doctor’s office.

How do I know when to see a doctor for sinusitis/rhinosinusitis?

If cold or allergy-like symptoms persist for 10 days, it’s likely that a bacterial infection is at the root of your problem.  Check out the chart here for clarification on symptoms of a cold, allergy, or sinus infection. When in doubt, it’s always safe to make an appointment to see your healthcare provider.

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