Relief from Sinusitis
If you’ve ever suffered from sinus problems, you are not alone. Approximately 15 percent of Americans suffer from sinusitis, which is a swelling of the sinuses, or air passages behind the cheekbones, eyebrows and jaw.
Symptoms of sinusitis can include:
- pain in the face, head or neck
- stuffy nose
- runny nose with thick or discolored mucous
- low-grade fever
- clogged ears
- general ill feeling
Sinusitis can be caused by colds, flu, allergies, medicines, infections, changes in temperature or atmosphere, or irritants in the air. Also, smoking, swimming, diving and overusing nasal sprays can increase your risk of getting a sinus infection.
There are two main types of sinusitis:
- Acute sinusitis—This usually begins suddenly, often just a few days after a cold. If your cold symptoms last more than a week, you may be suffering from acute sinusitis. Symptoms of acute sinusitis usually disappear within a few days.
- Chronic sinusitis— If you have had frequent episodes of acute sinusitis, or if your symptoms never completely go away, you may have chronic sinusitis. This condition is much less common than acute sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis can flare up unexpectedly, or it may follow a cold or respiratory infection. Since the symptoms may be less severe than that of acute sinusitis, it may go untreated for long periods of time. This can cause damage to the sinus tissues.
Sinusitis often can be treated with the following medications and lifestyle changes:
- Nasal decongestants
- Antihistamines (if you have allergies)
- Steam inhalations or steamy showers
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Avoid temperature extremes
- Avoid second-hand smoke
If these methods do not relieve the symptoms, or if there are signs of an infection, (such as yellowish nasal discharge), your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. These drugs help prevent complications, relieve symptoms, and reduce the risk of chronic sinusitis.
If medications or lifestyle changes do not help chronic sinusitis sufferers, surgery to repair a nasal obstruction or to open the sinuses may be an option. This should be discussed in detail with your primary care physician.
When should I call my doctor?
If you are experiencing acute sinusitis for the first time, and you are not too sick, you may want to try a nasal decongestant or some of the other tips mentioned above for a few days before calling your doctor. If symptoms persist, or if you have a fever, pain or swelling in the face, head or neck, you should call your doctor. He or she may prescribe an antibiotic.
If you think you are suffering from chronic sinusitis, call your physician immediately. Be sure to tell your physician what symptoms you are experiencing, and how you have tried to relieve them. He or she will determine the most appropriate treatment for you.