A sinus infection is also known as sinusitis. The sinuses are responsible for filtering and humidifying the air we inhale. When we are healthy, our sinus secretions are always moving and draining into the nasal cavity. However, when the movement of those secretions is blocked or mucus is thickened, sinusitis can occur. Sinusitis is a painful inflammation of the sinuses. It is estimated that sinusitis affects up to 20 percent of people at some point. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or other factors.
Symptoms include drainage of a thick, yellow or greenish discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat, nasal obstruction or congestion, causing difficulty breathing through your nose, pain, tenderness and swelling around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead, or a reduced sense of smell and taste, ear pain, aching in your upper jaw and teeth, cough, which may be worse at night, sore throat, bad breath (aka halitosis), fatigue or irritability, or nausea.
· Medications. Medications used to treat sinusitis and sinus infections include analgesics for pain, decongestants, saline nasal irrigation, and intranasal corticosteroids.
· Neti pots. Nasal irrigation with saline solutions or salt water offer a safe and inexpensive treatment option for sinusitis symptom relief in both adults and children, especially in chronic or frequent sinusitis. Rinsing the nose with a solution of salt water can soften nasal secretions and clear out mucus.
· Decongestants. Many people find decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) helpful in reducing pressure and pain. Decongestants reduce sinus swelling and encourage mucus to drain into the nose. The best option is usually a nasal spray decongestant. Topical decongestants should not be used for longer than three days because they can cause rebound congestion.
· Antibiotics. Not used to treat sinusitis as much anymore. This is cecause most cases of viral sinusitis resolve without treatment, and bacterial infection occurs in only a very small number of cases. They are only often recommended for adults or children who suffer from acute bacterial sinusitis.
· Surgery. Surgery is sometimes used to treat chronic sinusitis that persists, recurrent acute sinusitis, or when acute bacterial sinusitis does not respond to antibiotic treatment. The goals of surgery are to improve drainage and the passage of air through the sinuses, and to remove unwanted debris. Types of surgery include:
o Functional endoscopic sinus surgery: the main type of sinusitis surgery.
o Facial ultrasound: can also be effective for relieving pain and congestion associated with acute bacterial sinusitis.
o Adenoidectomy (removal of the adenoids) or adeno-tonsillectomy (removal of the adenoids and the tonsils): sometimes used in children to improve symptoms of chronic sinusitis.