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Diseases and Conditions

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Definition of Sinusitis

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal sinuses. It is usually caused by infection (bacterial or viral), but can also be caused by allergic reactions or other responses to environmental agents.

Description of Sinusitis

The sinuses are holes in the skull between the facial bones. There are four large sinuses: two inside the cheekbones (the maxillary sinuses) and two above the eyes (the frontal sinuses).

There are also smaller sinuses (ethmoidal and sphenoidal sinuses) located between the larger ones. The sinuses are lined with membranes that secrete antibody-containing mucus, which protects the respiratory passages from the onslaught of irritants in the air we breathe.

Causes and Risk Factors of Sinusitis

Most sinusitis is caused by infection (such as a cold or an upper respiratory tract infection) spreading to the sinuses from the nose along the narrow passages that drain mucus from the sinuses into the nose.

Allergies to dust, pollen, pet dander; indoor air pollutants, such as cigarette smoke, rug shampoo and formaldehyde (used in the manufacture of carpeting, particleboard and plywood); and outdoor air pollutants all can induce inflammation.

Excessive dryness in homes and offices from dry-air heating and air-conditioning systems can also inflame the sinuses.

Immunologic, as well as structural problems, such as narrow drainage passages, nasal obstruction (tumors, polyps or a deviated septum) problems are other possible causes of sinusitis.

Symptoms of Sinusitis

The classic symptoms of chronic (long lasting) sinusitis are:

•  a dull ache or pressure across the midface, especially between or deep into the eyes
• a headache that occurs daily for weeks at a time, and is often notably worse in the morning and with head     movement
•  nasal congestion
•  postnasal drip

The classic symptoms of acute (short lasting) sinusitis are:

•  fever
•  nasal obstruction
•  raspy voice
•  pus-like (purulent) nasal discharge
•  loss of sense of smell
•  facial pain or headache that is sometimes aggravated by bending over (When pain is present, this may suggest    which sinus is affected.)

Maxillary sinusitis (the most common type) manifests as cheek or dental pain. Forehead pain indicates frontal sinusitis. Pain at the bridge of the nose or behind the eye suggests ethmoid sinusitis. Pain is often referred to the top of the head with sphenoidal involvement.

Less common signs of sinusitis include:

•  sore throat
•  snoring
•  bad breath
•  chronic throat clearing
•  puffy eyes
•  coughing
•  stuffy ears
•  fatigue, irritability and depression
•  a chronic cold
•  asthma
•  bronchitis

Diagnosis of Sinusitis

The doctor will examine the mouth and throat and look up the nasal passages to determine whether the sinus outlets are blocked. Additionally, the doctor may do a transillumintion or a CAT scan.

Transillumination is done in a dark room with a very bright flashlight that is pressed against the forehead or cheek. If the light shines through the sinuses, the doctor can rule out sinusitis. If little or no light penetrates, the cavity is clogged and sinusitis is evident.

CAT scan is a diagnostic technique in which the combined use of a computer and x-rays are passed through the body at different angles, producing clear, cross-sectional images of the nasal cavities.

The doctor may also perform an endoscopic examination. This is a narrow, flexible fiber-optic scope that is placed into the nasal cavity through the nostrils. It allows the doctor to view where the sinuses and middle ear drain into the nose.

Predisposing factors in the patient's history may help confirm the diagnosis or indicate underlying conditions that require therapy. The two most common predisposing factors are a recent upper respiratory tract viral infection (lasting more that seven to 10 days) and allergic disease.

Additionally, sinusitis is especially likely if cold symptoms are unusually severe or accompanied by a high fever, pus-like nasal discharge or puffy eyes.

NOTE: Homoeopathy treats the disorder effectively and permanently.