Sinusitis occurs when the mucous membranes in the sinuses, nose and throat become inflamed. This swelling causes an obstruction in the nasal openings which prevents the mucous from draining as it is meant to, which is what causes the symptoms to occur. When the sinuses become blocked, this can cause a moist environment that allows for the infection to take hold more easily. When the sinuses become infected and cannot properly drain, they can become filled with pus that causes a worsening of the infection. Some of the most common causes for sinusitis include viral infections such as the common cold, bacterial infections and fungal infections. There are also health conditions that can make sinusitis more likely such as nasal polyps, nasal tumors and allergies.
There are a number of complications that can occur as a result of untreated sinusitis. Some of these complications include chronic sinusitis, asthma flare-ups and asthma attacks, meningitis which is a serious infection and inflammation in the brain, vision difficulties and ear infections. The complications of untreated sinusitis can be severe, which is why seeking medical attention is essential.
The symptoms associated with acute sinusitis include drainage from the nose or along the back of the throat that is thick and green or yellow, nasal obstructions or nasal congestion making it difficult to breathe and aching in the teeth and upper jaw. Other symptoms may include a cough that worsens at night, a reduced sense of taste or smell, pain or tenderness in the face and forehead and headache. Ear pain, soreness in the throat, halitosis or bad breath, fatigue and fever are some other symptoms associated with sinusitis.
Physicians will use a number of different tests and examinations to determine the situation involving sinusitis beginning with a physical exam. They will look for the cause of the symptoms and will check for tenderness in the throat and the nose. They may also utilize nasal endoscopy, nasal culture, sinus culture, allergy testing and imaging studies in order to determine the cause for the sinusitis as well as the best possible treatment options.
There are many cases of acute sinusitis that do not require treatment, and it is generally the chronic versions of the condition that require assistance from a physician. Acute versions of the condition typically occur in conjunction with the common cold or other similar viruses, and so they do not cause a serious threat. There are a number of treatment options that a physician may prescribe to treat sinusitis, because the most important thing to do is to relieve symptoms. Some of these treatment options include saline nasal sprays, nasal corticosteroids, decongestant agents, over the counter medications to relieve pain, antibiotic medications, antifungal medications and immunotherapy. Immunotherapy is prescribed when allergies are playing a role in sinusitis, and it involves allergy shots that help to reduce the way the body responds to the particular allergen in question.