Each year, millions of Americans struggle with the discomfort of sinus inflammation or infection. Some people refer to sinus problems as a cold, sinus infection, or sinusitis. Clinically, there are a few ways that this inflammation is described. Acute sinusitis may last no more than 4 weeks, subacute sinusitis can last up to 8 weeks, and chronic sinusitis, which we commonly treat, can last many months. Sinusitis can also be recurring, popping up every few months.
There are several reasons why sinusitis may occur. When the problem becomes chronic or recurrent, a sinus specialist will explore the underlying cause. Identifying cause facilitates the development of the best treatment plan. We do not wish for our patients to rely on over-the-counter medication or prescription antibiotics to constantly clear infection and inflammation. This is why we offer proven treatment protocols like balloon sinus dilation for recurrent or chronic sinusitis. But first, for a person to get the help they need, they’ve got to know how to spot the varying signs of sinusitis.
Intermingling Structures on the Face and Head
What we call the sinuses are four sets of hollow spaces in the skeletal structure around the nose. One pair of spaces is called the frontal sinuses. These are located over the eyes. Then there are the maxillary sinuses that sit behind the cheekbones. The sphenoid sinuses are located behind the eyes, and the ethmoids sit behind the bridge of the nose, between the eyes. Every pair of sinuses opens into the nasal passageway and the nose, allowing air and mucus to circulate freely. Sinus pain occurs when the circulation of mucus and air becomes blocked.
Why is it important to know these details of the sinuses? Because it can give you clues when pain occurs. Each set of sinuses demonstrates its own pain when inflammation or infection develops, and this pain may not occur directly in the sinus but in an area around it. For instance, infection in the maxillary sinus may not cause cheek pain but, rather, tooth pain. When the frontal sinuses are inflamed, the primary symptom may be a headache. Infection in the sphenoid sinuses may cause an earache.
There are several ways to improve sinus health. A diagnosed infection may need to be treated with antibiotics. Ongoing or recurring infections may be significantly reduced with a simple in-office procedure. To learn more about sinusitis treatments and balloon sinus dilation, call our St. Louis office at 314.473.5433.