Acute Sinusitis Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Home Remedies

Acute Sinusitis Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Home Remedies


What is sinusitis?


Sinusitis means inflammation of a sinus. Most bouts of sinusitis are caused by an infection. The cheekbone (maxillary) sinuses are the most commonly affected.

Acute sinusitis means that the infection develops quickly (over a few days) and lasts a short time. Many cases of acute sinusitis last a week or so but it is not unusual for it to last 2-3 weeks (that is, longer than most colds). Sometimes it lasts longer. Sinusitis is said to be acute if it lasts from 4-30 days and subacute if it lasts 4-12 weeks.

Chronic sinusitis means that a sinusitis becomes persistent and lasts for longer than 12 weeks. Chronic sinusitis is uncommon.

What is Acute Sinusitis?


Acute sinusitis, also called acute rhinosinusitis, is a short-term infection or inflammation of the membranes that line your sinuses.

Acute sinusitis (acute rhinosinusitis) causes the cavities around your nasal passages (sinuses) to become inflamed and swollen. This interferes with drainage and causes mucus to build up.

With acute sinusitis, it may be difficult to breathe through your nose. The area around your eyes and face may feel swollen, and you may have throbbing facial pain or a headache.

Acute sinusitis is most often caused by the common cold. Other triggers include allergies, bacterial and fungal infections. Treatment of acute sinusitis depends on the cause. In most cases, home remedies are all that's needed.

Causes  and Rick Factor of Acute Sinusitis


Causes of Acute Sinusitis



Illnesses and conditions that can cause acute sinusitis include:
  • colds
  • bacterial upper respiratory tract infections
  • fungal sinus infections
  • allergies that cause mucus production in the sinuses
  • lack of cilia motility, caused by disease (cilia are the small hairs located in your sinuses that move to push mucus out of your sinuses)
  • nasal polyps or tumors
  • deviated nasal septum
  • enlarged or infected adenoids
  • infected tooth (in rare cases bacteria can spread from the infected tooth to the sinuses)
  • cystic fibrosis (a disease that causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the body)

Rick Factor of Acute Sinusitis


The following factors can increase your risk of developing acute sinusitis:
  • allergies or hay fever
  • nasal passage abnormalities, such as a deviated septum or nasal polyp
  • smoking or frequent breathing in of pollutants
  • diseases that affect the function of cilia, such as Kartagener syndrome (a lung disease that affects cilia motility)
  • large adenoids
  • spending a lot of time in a daycare, preschool, or other areas where contagious viruses are frequently present
  • activities that result in pressure changes, such as flying and scuba diving
  • a weakened immune system
  • cystic fibrosis

What are the symptoms of acute sinusitis?


Symptoms that commonly occur include:

Pain and tenderness over the infected sinus. The pain is often throbbing and worse when you bend your head forward. Chewing may be painful.

Nasal symptoms. You may have either:
  • A blocked nose. Both sides of your nose usually feel blocked. Your sense of smell may also go for a while.
  • A runny nose. If the discharge is greeny/yellow, it is more likely that you have a bacterial infection in your sinuses. The green/yellow colour is due to infected mucus and pus. A runny nose may dry up if the sinus drainage channels become blocked with thick mucus. If this happens, pain and tenderness over the infected sinus may become worse.
A high temperature. A fever may develop and you may feel generally unwell.

Other symptoms that may occur include: headache, bad breath, toothache, cough, a feeling of pressure or fullness in the ears, and tiredness. In children, symptoms may include irritability, ear discomfort, snoring, mouth breathing, feeding difficulty and nasal speech.

Contact your doctor if you have any of the following:


  • Symptoms that don't improve within a few days or symptoms that get worse
  • A persistent fever
  • A history of recurrent or chronic sinusitis

How is acute sinusitis diagnosed?


A sinus infection can be difficult to diagnose in the early stages because it can mimic a common cold. Both can cause nasal congestion and fatigue. However, a common cold usually will improve in five to seven days, while an untreated sinus infection can last three weeks or longer. Sinus infections also are more likely to cause a green nasal discharge, fever and facial pain.

Your doctor will diagnose acute sinusitis based on your symptoms, medical history and a simple office examination. The doctor will ask about your symptoms and how long they last, look into your ears, nose and throat, and may tap or press on your face to test for tenderness over specific sinuses.

If your doctor is uncertain of your diagnosis, he or she may use other methods to see inside the sinuses. Some physicians may insert a nasopharyngoscope (a thin, lighted tube with a camera on the end) into your nose to look for abnormalities. X-rays and computed tomography scans (CT) also can provide a look at the sinuses, especially those that are deep within the head.

What are the treatments for sinusitis?


Most cases of acute sinusitis don't need treatment because they're caused by viruses that also cause the common cold. Self-care techniques are usually the only treatment needed to speed recovery and ease symptoms.

Treatments to relieve symptoms


Your doctor may recommend treatments to help relieve sinusitis symptoms, including:

  • Saline nasal spray, which you spray into your nose several times a day to rinse your nasal passages.
  • Nasal corticosteroids. These nasal sprays help prevent and treat inflammation. Examples include fluticasone (Flonase), mometasone (Nasonex), budesonide (Rhinocort Aqua), triamcinolone (Nasacort AQ) and beclomethasone (Beconase AQ).
  • Decongestants. These medications are available in over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription liquids, tablets and nasal sprays. OTC oral decongestants include Sudafed, Actifed and Drixoral. Nasal sprays include oxymetazoline (Afrin, others). These medications are generally taken for only a few days at most. Otherwise they can cause the return of more severe congestion (rebound congestion).
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others). Aspirin has been linked with Reye's syndrome, so use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

Antibiotics


Antibiotics usually aren't needed to treat acute sinusitis.

  • Antibiotics won't help when acute sinusitis is caused by a viral or fungal infection.
  • Most cases of bacterial sinusitis improve without antibiotics.
  • Antibiotic treatment is generally needed only if the infection is severe, recurrent or persistent.
Antibiotics used to treat acute sinusitis caused by a bacterial infection include amoxicillin (Amoxil, others), doxycycline (Doryx, Monodox, others) or the combination drug trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim, Septra, others). If the infection doesn't go away or if the sinusitis comes back, your doctor may try a different antibiotic.

If your doctor does prescribe antibiotics, it's critical to take the entire course of medication. Generally, this means you'll need to take them for 10 to 14 days — even after your symptoms get better. If you stop taking them early, your symptoms may come back.

Herbs


Nasturtium herb and horseradish are beneficial for relieving sinusitis symptoms, and produce minimal side effects. (Goos, et al., 2006) Ask your doctor about safety and dosages.

Acupuncture and Acupressure


While no hard scientific evidence exists to confirm their effectiveness in treating this condition, some people report that acupuncture and acupressure provide some relief for acute sinusitis caused by allergies.

Antifungal medications


Rarely, acute sinusitis is caused by a fungal infection, which can be treated with antifungal medication. The dose of medication — as well as how long you'll need to take it — depends on the severity of your infection and how quickly your symptoms improve.

Immunotherapy


If allergies are contributing to your sinusitis, allergy shots (immunotherapy) that help reduce the body's reaction to specific allergens may help treat your symptoms.

Surgery


In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat the underlying cause of acute sinusitis. Your doctor may perform surgery to remove nasal polyps or tumors, correct a deviated nasal septum, or clean and drain your sinuses.

Are there any complications from acute sinusitis?


Chronic sinusitis can sometimes develop from an acute sinusitis. This is the most common complication. Chronic sinusitis causes similar symptoms to acute sinusitis but lasts longer.

Other complications are rare. However, they can be serious. For example, infection may spread from a sinus to around an eye, into bones, into the blood, or into the brain. These severe complications are estimated to occur in about 1 in 10,000 cases of acute sinusitis. They are more common with infection of the frontal sinus. Children are more prone to complications than adults. Swelling or redness of an eyelid or cheek in a child with sinusitis should be reported to a doctor urgently.

What Happens in the Long Term?


Most cases of acute sinusitis clear up with home treatment. Sometimes acute sinusitis does not clear up and leads to sub-acute sinusitis (lasting four to 12 weeks), or chronic sinusitis (lasting three months or longer). In very rare cases, sinusitis can lead to an infection that spreads to your eyes, ears, or bones, or causes meningitis. Call your healthcare provider if you experience a severe headache that does not respond to medication, a fever, or vision changes that occur during your acute sinusitis infection; these may be signs the infection has spread outside your sinuses.

Prevention for Acute Sinusitis


Avoid upper respiratory infections. Minimize contact with people who have colds. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before your meals.

Drink lots of water. This thins nasal secretions and keeps mucous membranes moist.

Use steam to soothe nasal passages. Breathe deeply while standing in a hot shower, or inhale the vapor from a basin filled with hot water while holding a towel over your head.

Avoid blowing your nose with great force, which can push bacteria into the sinuses.

Carefully manage your allergies. Work with your doctor to keep symptoms under control.

Avoid cigarette smoke and polluted air. Tobacco smoke and other pollutants can irritate and inflame your lungs and nasal passages.

Use a humidifier. If the air in your home is dry, such as it is if you have forced-air heat, adding moisture to the air may help prevent sinusitis. Be sure the humidifier stays clean and free of mold with regular, thorough cleaning.

Some doctors advise periodic home nasal washings to clear secretions. This may help prevent, and also treat, sinus infections.

Home remedies for Acute Sinusitis


Get plenty of rest. This will help your body fight infection and speed recovery.

Drink plenty of fluids, such as water or juice. This will help dilute mucous secretions and promote drainage. Avoid beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol, as they can be dehydrating. Drinking alcohol can also worsen the swelling of the lining of the sinuses and nose.

Moisten your sinus cavities. Drape a towel over your head as you breathe in the vapor from a bowl of hot water. Keep the vapor directed toward your face. Or take a hot shower, breathing in the warm, moist air. This will help ease pain and help mucus drain.

Apply warm compresses to your face. Place warm, damp towels around your nose, cheeks and eyes to ease facial pain.

Rinse out your nasal passages. Use a specially designed squeeze bottle (Sinus Rinse, others) or neti pot to rinse your nasal passages. This home remedy, called nasal lavage, can help clear your sinuses. If you make your own rinse, use water that's contaminant-free — distilled, sterile, previously boiled and cooled, or filtered using a filter with an absolute pore size of 1 micron or smaller — to make up the irrigation solution. Also be sure to rinse the irrigation device after each use with contaminant-free water and leave open to air-dry.

Sleep with your head elevated. This will help your sinuses drain, reducing congestion.