What causes my sinus Issues?
The Sinus Cycle Explained.
Chronic sinusitis is a condition that causes the sinuses in the nasal passage to remain inflamed for an extended period of time (usually longer than three months). Chronic sinusitis can also occur if you have moderately frequent sinus infections. It is important for you to seek treatment if you suspect that you have chronic sinusitis symptoms. If chronic sinusitis remains untreated, irreparable damage could be inflicted on the. sinus cavities which could lead to decreased movement of the eyeball(s), double vision, cellulitis and meningitis.
Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis
There are several symptoms of chronic sinusitis that indicate a need for treatment. These symptoms could include any combination of the following:
- Headaches with sinus pressure
- Feelings of pressure or tightness in the face, including the nose, eyes, ears and cheeks
- Obstruction of the nasal passages
- Congestion or drainage in the throat and nose
- Consistent and unrelieved coughing, especially during the night
- Feelings of pain in the throat or teeth
- An increase in asthma symptoms that were previously treated
- Dizziness or fever
- Halitosis, or chronic bad breath
The Challenge Of Diagnosing Your Sinus Condition.
Many patients find it difficult to self-diagnose chronic sinusitis due to the fact that many of these symptoms are indications of other sicknesses like the common cold, acute sinusitis, bacterial or viral infections, and more. If you find yourself experiencing any combination of the above symptoms, it’s important for you to contact the Sinus Institute of Atlanta to explore treatment options.
Chronic Sinusitis vs. Acute Sinusitis
Chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis share many of the same symptoms but have several distinct differences. Patients who have acute sinusitis are afflicted by a bacterial infection of the sinus cavities. Allergies or colds are often the cause of acute sinusitis, and patients are encouraged to visit their physician for a diagnosis and antibiotic treatment. If you feel any combination of the above symptoms for more than ten days or your symptoms worsen after they initially improve, you most likely have acute sinusitis.
Chronic sinusitis is diagnosed in patients who have many of the same symptoms as acute sinusitis, but experience them for more than three months. As opposed to a bacterial infection, chronic sinusitis is considered an inflammatory disorder due to the severity and duration of the symptoms, which will not completely resolve. Seek Treatment Balloon Sinuplasty™ is an extremely effective procedure that many patients suffering from chronic sinusitis have turned to. If you’re interested in learning more about this treatment or have additional questions, please contact us. Listen to testimonials from chronic sinusitis sufferers who underwent the Balloon Sinuplasty™ procedure.
What Are the Different Types of Sinuses?
The term sinuses refers to hollow cavities all connected in the head. There are different types of sinuses that people can experience. Paranasal sinuses are a group of four paired air filled pockets located in the head. The four pairs are:
- Maxillary sinuses
- Frontal sinuses
- Ethmoid sinuses
- Sphenoid sinuses
When you breathe in air, mucus in the sinuses humidifies the air and collects bacteria and pollutants. Tiny hairs lining the sinuses move the mucus (with pollutants) out of the sinus, into your throat. You then swallow the mucus, and your stomach acid destroys the bacteria and pollutants.
Colds, allergies, environmental irritants or other conditions can slow or block natural drainage, and irritate the sinus lining. This, in turn, can lead to swelling, additional blockage, and chronic sinusitis. Sinusitis is a common condition that afflicts over 35 million Americans every year.
In healthy sinuses, mucus drains out and air is able to circulate. Sinusitis describes a swelling (inflammation) of the sinuses that can lead to blockages and prevent mucous from draining properly. This can lead to infection.
Chronic sinusitis is a condition that causes the sinuses to become inflamed. Sinuses are hollow cavities in the skull next to the nose. Healthy sinuses drain normally into the nose through small passages called ostia. When these passages are blocked, fluid backs up into the sinus causing symptoms. Usually, the blockage is temporary and resolves within a week or so such as in the common cold or an acute allergy attack. However, sometimes, the passages remain blocked for extended periods of time resulting in chronic sinusitis.
Sinusitis is caused by an inflammation, or swelling, of the tissue lining of the sinuses. This inflammation is most commonly triggered by allergies or a bout with the common cold or influenza (flu). When the sinuses become inflamed, the glands in the sinus start secreting more mucus than normal, in an attempt to fight the allergen or virus. The extra mucus, along with the swelling, blocks the nasal passageways and prevents the mucus from draining out of the sinus cavities like it should. The small quantity of bacteria that normally live inside the nose become trapped inside the nasal cavities, the whole time multiplying rapidly. Soon there are large numbers of bacteria, and this is what constitutes a sinus infection.
The Seasonal Connection
There are multiple reasons why sinus infections are more common in fall and winter. The simplest explanation is that the most common causes of sinusitis allergies, colds and flu are very prevalent this time of year. It stands to reason then, that there will be more cases of sinusitis as well.
The first culprit—allergies can obviously be a year round problem. What makes autumn such a tough time for allergy sufferers is this is prime time for two of the most troublesome allergens: ragweed pollen and molds.
Ragweed is notorious for causing severe allergic reactions. It thrives throughout the South, and can be found growing in open fields, vacant lots and along highways and city streets. In Georgia, ragweed pollinates from late summer through November. A single plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains, with each grain potentially traveling up to 700 miles in the wind. One of the most common activities in autumn raking leaves can stir up ragweed pollen that has settled on the dead leaves, increasing exposure.
Mold And Other Allergens
Mold can be almost anywhere outdoors: in the soil, compost piles, rotting wood and plants. In the fall, outdoor mold levels are often at their highest. Fallen leaves often sit in yards or are raked into piles, allowing moisture to accumulate, which accelerates mold growth. Decaying vegetation from summer gardens can also become mold “hot spots.” The mold spores float in the air, much like pollen. As mold particle counts climb higher, they become increasingly irritating to people with allergies, worsening allergy symptoms.
Incidences of the cold and flu increase in fall and winter, in part, because people spend more time indoors. Inside homes, schools, stores and businesses, the air is recycled and people are in closer contact with each other, allowing contagious diseases to easily spread. Furthermore, indoor air tends to be drier particularly during cold weather when the furnace is on. Dry indoor air dehydrates the mucus membranes inside the nasal passages, which can lead to inflammation and an infection.
Outdoors, humidity levels also tend to be lower during fall and winter. This, along with the colder temperatures outside, are ideal conditions for the viability and replication of cold and influenza viruses, which best survive in low humidity, low temperature conditions. Transmission rates also increase in cold, dry weather.
The Importance of a Proper Diagnosis
If you do start to feel sinus pain or pressure, the first and most important step to take is to get a proper diagnosis. Many people mistakenly assume they just have seasonal allergies and treat their symptoms with over-the-counter antihistamines, or they think they just have a cold which will go away by itself, when actually what they have has turned into a full-blown sinus infection.
It’s always best to get a proper diagnosis, so you can get the correct treatment. In most cases, sinusitis is easily treatable with medical therapy. Surgery is used as a last resort or for severe infections. When left untreated or undiagnosed, sinus infections can cause further complications with the nose, eyes or middle ear, lasting for months or even years.
If you suspect you have a sinus infection or if you have recurring symptoms, give the Sinus Institute of Atlanta a call at (404) 257-7412 to request an office consultation with Dr. Sinha. Whether your sinusitis symptoms are seasonal or last throughout the year, the Sinus Institute of Atlanta has testing and treatment services available for patients of all ages.