Sinusitis, also known as sinus infection or rhinosinusitis, is a very common condition
where the paranasal sinuses are inflamed, causing congested nose, headache and facial
pain. Paranasal sinuses are air cavities in the
bones of the skull. There are four pairs of sinuses located on either side of the head.
They are the maxillary, frontal, ethmoid, and sphenoid sinuses.
The sinuses are lined with respiratory epithelium producing mucus. The mucus drains into the
nasal cavity through small openings. Impaired sinus drainage has been associated with inflammation
of sinuses. When a sinus is blocked, fluid builds up, making it a favorable environment
for bacteria or viruses grow and cause infection. A typical sinusitis symptom is described as
a dull pain or constant pressure commonly localized to the affected sinus. The pain
may worsen when the person bends over or while lying down. Symptoms often start on one side
of the head and spread to the other side. Acute sinusitis may be also be accompanied
by thick nasal discharge of yellow greenish color.
Sinusitis may have different causes. These include:
- Allergy: allergens such as pollen, pet dander… may trigger inflammatory response of the mucosa
of the nose and sinuses, resulting in excess mucus production, nasal congestion, sneezing
and itching. - Infection: infection usually occurs as a
complication of a common cold. Impaired sinus drainage due to inflammation of nasal mucosa
during a cold often leads to infection of the sinus itself. Cold-like symptoms plus
headache, facial pain or pressure are common complaints.
- Other conditions that cause blockage of sinus drainage. These include: structural
abnormalities such as deviated nasal septum; formation of nasal polyps.
Treatments vary depending on the cause of sinusitis:
- For allergy: intranasal corticosteroids are commonly used.
- For viral infection: symptom relief medications such as nasal spray for irrigation and decongestion;
other conservative treatment for common cold such as rest and drinking plenty of fluid.
- For bacterial infection: antibiotics may be prescribed.
- For recurrent or chronic sinusitis due to structural abnormalities or nasal polyps,
nasal surgery may be recommended to clear up the drainage canal.