The sinuses describe an area of open space located within the facial bones. They are attached to the nasal passages. Sometimes, the lining of the sinuses may become inflamed. This is referred to as sinusitis. The symptoms of sinus inflammation, or sinusitis, can occur when you have a cold, and they may be more than a little uncomfortable. Here, we want to discuss what may cause sinusitis and what you can do if you experience this condition.
Sinusitis may be caused by:
- A virus. Sinusitis may be caused by the same types of viruses that cause the common cold. This is why the two often occur simultaneously. When you have a viral cold or sinusitis, you may experience alternating bouts with runny nose and congestion. When sinusitis is caused by a virus, symptoms typically worsen over the first four or five days before they gradually diminish. Usually, significant improvement can be seen after a week to 10 days.
- The sinuses can harbor bacteria if they do not drain fluid very well. This may result from fluid overload or from a common cold. Even a small amount of fluid accumulation in the sinus cavity can invite bacteria to grow. Bacterial sinusitis is more often noticed at the end of a cold.
Viral colds and sinusitis simply run their course. There is no treatment that makes the process go faster. Therefore, there is usually no treatment recommended for this type of sinusitis. Bacterial sinusitis, on the other hand, may require treatment with antibiotics.
Symptoms of bacterial sinusitis include:
- Development after a cold. This may look like an initial improvement in nasal congestion followed by noticeable symptoms.
- Pressure or pain in the “cheeks” or sinuses.
- Tooth pain. This is because the nerves that end in the mouth travel through the sinuses.
- Thick nasal discharge.
- Ear pain or pressure.
It is beneficial to see your doctor if you suspect you may have bacterial sinusitis. However, your doctor may not prescribe antibiotics for your infection. Other strategies that are often recommended include taking an over-the-counter oral decongestant. Medicated nasal sprays are not encouraged because they may ultimately worsen congestion. Pain may be managed with an anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen, and swelling may be decreased by rinsing the sinuses with a very mild saline solution.
If you experience chronic or frequent bouts of sinusitis, you may be interested in a treatment procedure that reduces your susceptibility to sinus inflammation. To learn more about balloon sinus dilation, call our St. Louis office at 314.473.5433.