Sinus infections or plain cold and cough? Spot the differences, causes, symptoms and cure for sinusitis

    Sinusitis: Runny and stuffy nose, sore throat, pain and soreness over your face, headache, and even loss of smell? You could be suffering from sinusitis, a debilitating inflammatory condition that can severely affect your quality of life. Here are the causes, symptoms and treatment that alleviate the discomfort and improve your well-being.

    Runny and stuffy nose, sore throat, pain and soreness over your face, headache and even loss of smell? If you’ve been dealing with these for a long time, you could be suffering from sinusitis, a debilitating inflammatory condition that can severely affect your quality of life if left untreated

    Rhinosinusitis, commonly called sinusitis, refers to the inflammation of the mucosa of the sinuses. Sinuses are cavities in facial bones that synthesise mucus which lubricates the nasal region. According to the Rhinosinusitis Task Force, it is classified into acute (less than 4 weeks), subacute (4-12 weeks), chronic (>12 weeks) and recurrent (4 or more episodes per year).

    It can be caused by the common cold virus (rhinovirus) and bacteria like Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Staphylococcus aureus. Swimming in polluted water, and dental infections are also part of the etiology of this inflammatory state. Oroantral fistula (abnormal communication between the oral cavity and sinus in the maxillary bone of the face) can lead the bacteria to traverse this passage and infect the maxillary sinus. Any injury to the face or the facial bones may be followed by rhinosinusitis.

    Common symptoms

    The most typical indications of this disease include nasal congestion, sneezing, mild fever and headache. Pain and tenderness may also be experienced in the area by those who are affected (like on the forehead in case of frontal sinusitis). Nasal discharge comprising either pus or mucus is common, and pressure in the face can begin to hamper daily activities. Children may show red and puffy cheeks.

    Hidden dangers

    Prolonged sinusitis may reduce the sense of smell, disturb the quality of life and lead to osteitis (inflammation in the bone) and orbital cellulitis, where the infection spreads to the eye.

    Treatment and home remedies  

    Neti Pot: Widely used method of nasal irrigation, a neti pot is filled with saline solution, which is then poured into each nostril individually. This helps in ameliorating the symptoms and provides intermittent relief. One must avoid using tap water, as it may be contaminated.

    Hot showers: A win-win for your sore muscles and triggered sinuses, a hot shower can help keep the nasal passage moist, which aids in relieving pressure. If you need a quicker remedy, steam bowls medicated with menthol may also do the trick.

    Grandma says: Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory additions to your diet, namely turmeric, ginger and garlic, can alleviate swelling and reduce pain. A concoction of warm turmeric milk (or turmeric latte, if you’re hip) every night before sleeping can work wonders.

    Hydrate: Enhancing fluid intake by drinking water and fresh fruit juices can help synthesise mucosa, providing adequate lubrication to the olfactory organ.

    Hot fomentation: Compressing a warm cloth to the sinus region decreases pressure in the face. It can be placed over the cheeks and the nose for temporary relief. Local heat can help soothe inflammation.

    Pillows: Using more pillows near the head and upper region of the back can keep the head in a comfortable position, which is better than lying down for those suffering from sinusitis. This reduces pressure and makes sleeping easier. Healing is accelerated while one is asleep, so ample rest is recommended.

    Yoga: The age-old yoga asanas can help in better breathing and steer clear of regular sinusitis (For chronic conditions, it is advised that you visit your doctor ). Practice yoga and breathing exercises under a yoga expert.

    It is best to consult an otorhinolaryngologist about what drugs to take (like antibacterials) and which treatment option is best for you.

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