The customary target of standard treatment for chronic sinus infection has been the nasal and sinus tissue, but Mayo Clinic researchers recently found that the cause of the ailment lies in the nasal mucus.
Activated white blood cells cluster in the nasal and sinus mucus and scatter a toxic protein onto the membrane, triggering the chronic infection. “This has far-reaching implications”, says ear, nose and throat specialist and leader of the study, Dr. Jens Ponikau.
A sinus is the cavity within a bone, especially one of the mucus membrane-lined, air-filled spaces in the bones near the nose. ENT Dr. Joel Alexander, who practices in Atlanta, says that more than 30 million Americans suffer from sinus problems, especially sinus infections.
A chronic sinus infection may cause pain in the following ways: pressure, congestion and swelling that obstruct the sinuses and prevent them from draining properly.
Sinus infections also cause headaches between the eyes, nose and cheek, nasal congestion with thick secretions, cough, fever, and bad breath. Sinusitis is further defined as acute or chronic.
- Acute sinusitis usually lasts less than 8 weeks and occurs no more than 3 times per year with each episode lasting no longer than 10 days.
- Chronic sinusitis lasts longer than 8 weeks or occurs more than 4 times per year with symptoms usually lasting more than 20 days.
Allergens and pollutants may trigger acute sinusitis, but the condition usually follows a viral infection in the upper respiratory tract. Bacteria that normally cause acute sinusitis are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis.
These microorganisms, together with Straphylococcus aureus andanaerobes are involved in chronic sinusitis. Fungi are also becoming an increasing cause of chronic sinusitis, especially in people with diseases that weaken the immune system, such as AIDS, leukemia and diabetes.
Chronic sinusitis is much less common than acute sinusitis. Symptoms may last three months or more. The condition is usually treated with antibiotics if bacteria caused the infection.
Oral decongestants, pills taken by the mouth to relieve a stuffy nose, are sometimes used. An excellent alternative is this Nasal Sinus Spray from Therabreath. Over-the-counter painkillers may be used to control pain. Surgery to clean and drain the sinuses is sometimes required.
You should start considering surgical options for your chronic sinusitis once you have tried home remedies, taken over-the-counter as well as prescription medications, and have had multiple visits to your doctor.
Most surgical procedures for sinus disease are elective. Although surgery today is safe, with a fairly easy recovery, there are always risks involved with the procedure.