Allergies and sinus problems are common during the warmer seasons. A reason for this is that plants release pollen in the spring, summer, and fall. People allergic to pollen may experience symptoms similar to a cold during these seasons. However, a cold or flu will usually not last longer than 2 weeks, while allergies can last 6 weeks or longer — depending on the cause of your allergic reaction.
Sinusitis is a condition where you experience irritation and swelling of your sinuses.
Paranasal sinuses are air pockets in your face near your nose. They trap bacteria using mucus, filter the air you breathe in, and even determine how you sound when you talk.
Sinusitis may be caused by a viral or bacterial infection or an allergic reaction. An example of viral sinusitis is when you have a cold and your sinuses are inflamed. Bacterial sinusitis can also happen during a cold or an allergic reaction. In either case, a stuffy nose prevents sinus drainage — leading to trapped bacteria and inflamed sinuses.
The difference between bacterial and viral sinusitis is that bacterial sinusitis is more likely to make you feel sicker. Bacterial sinusitis usually causes more facial swelling and pain than viral sinusitis and you may even have a fever with a bacterial sinus infection.
Sinusitis is also classified according to how long it lasts:
- Acute sinusitis — A sinus infection that lasts no more than 4 weeks.
- Subacute sinusitis — A sinus infection that lasts from 4 to 12 weeks.
- Chronic sinusitis — A more severe sinus infection that lasts over 12 weeks — sometimes even years.
- Recurrent sinusitis. A sinus infection that occurs several times in the same year.
Causes of sinusitis
Sinusitis inflammation may also occur as a result of:
- Structural deformities of the nose
- A tooth infection
- Indirect smoke
- Adenoid enlargement
- Swimming or diving
- Foreign objects in the nose
- Injury to the nose
Symptoms of sinusitis
Sinusitis is common and easy to identify. Age can impact the symptoms you experience.
Children with sinusitis may show:
- A running nose for 7 to 10 days — with a thick clear, yellow, or green discharge
- Swollen eyes
- Night coughs
- Occasional coughing during the day
In adults and older children, the following may be seen:
When to see a doctor
In some cases, your condition may get worse, and you may need to visit a licensed healthcare professional. Visit your doctor right away if you have:
- Changes in your vision
- Excessive pain and pressure on your face
- A high fever
- Stiff neck
- Reddened or swollen eyes (one or both)
- Problems with thinking
Treatment of sinusitis
When deciding what treatment method is right for you, your doctor will consider:
- Your age
- Your medical history and current health situation
- The severity of your condition
- Your ability to handle some medications, therapies, or medical procedures
- Your preferences
- How long your symptoms are expected to last
Possible treatments may include:
- Nasal irrigation — Rinsing your nose with warm, salty water using a rinse bottle or a container with a spout.
- Steam inhalation — Inhaling hot steam through your nose three or four times a day. Each session should take about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Oral steroids — Your doctor may prescribe oral steroids when other medications haven’t worked for you or when you have a severe case of sinusitis.
- Nasal sprays — Nasal sprays contain steroid medication that reduces swelling. Make sure you read the usage instructions to avoid unwanted side effects.
- Antibiotic medications — Antibiotics can be useful when treating a sinus infection caused by trapped bacteria. When taking antibiotics, make sure you are following the instructions on your prescription.
Risk factors of getting sinusitis
In addition to pollen and hot, dry air, other factors that may increase your chances of getting sinusitis include:
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Sinusitis (Sinus Infection or Sinus Inflammation)."
Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Sinusitis."
Mount Sinai: "Sinusitis."
?The National Institutes of Health: "Cold, Flu, or Allergy?"
Nemours KidsHealth: "What Is Sinusitis?"
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