What is sinus infection?
A sinus infection or inflammation is called ‘sinusitis’. Sinuses are air cavities which are present in the skull, eyes and around cheeks. It is found to affect up to14% of adults.
Sinus infections are in form of Acute Bacterial Rhinosinusitis (ABRS), Chronic Rhinosinusitis (CRS). The pain goes around from head, nose, teeth and even radiates to the shoulders.
Sinus infections and symptoms do not restrict only to the pain, often they are associated with anosmia or hyposmia.
Why do I always get sinus infections?
As mentioned, sinuses are air spaces, bacterial infections or emboli can get trapped in such space very easily. It is due to the lacuna or gaps in them. It works the same way if the cause is viral or fungal.Sinusitis is closely linked with living, lifestyle and habits also.
People living in extremely damp, moist and dirty areas inhale water vapor loaded with a lot of germs (bacterial/viral/fungal), people living near dumping grounds also may face the same, smoking second hand or even just smoking cigarettes, weed or any other form of drug can make the inflammation go worse in the sinus, often leading to chronic from acute.
Our nasal and para nasal sinuses are lined by mucus secreting cells, if the surroundings and air is too dry or has very less amount of moisture, this also leads to an increase in sinusoidal infections. Snuff or other habits also contribute.
Anatomical anomalies like deviated septum, nasal polyps or hypertrophy in tissues are also causes of such infections.
Ill treated infections, or antibiotic resistance again are some of the perspectives to explain repetitive sinusitis.
Signs and symptoms of sinus infections
Sinus infections show various manifestations like runny nose, pain and heaviness around the head or nasal region. The person might feel blocked nasal passages or even too much nasal discharges. In a few cases epistaxis or nasal bleeding can also be seen.
Management and treatment
Is sinus infection contagious?
Just like all other infections caused by bacteria or viruses, sinus infections are also the same.
They are spread through coughs, sneezes, shared smokes, shared handkerchiefs and mouth to nose or mouth to mouth contact.
The probability or chances is still a matter of debate as sinus infections are not always presented alone or they may be present along with many other symptoms which indicate various diseases.
Complete treatment i.e. symptomatic as well as cure of the root cause and proper lifestyle based on hygiene will prevent such risk factors.
Is sinus infection common?
It is fairly common to get sinus infections. People prone to allergies, with anatomical anomalies like polyps and other conditions are more prone than otherwise healthy individuals.
Lifestyle, living conditions,comorbidities as well as age also contribute to sinus infections, just like most other infections.
How is sinus infection diagnosed?
Sinus infections are primarily diagnosed by symptoms presented.
To confirm and conclude on the diagnosis the aids of CT (Computed Tomography), high quality X-rays and imaging are used.
Nasal endoscopes can also be used to diagnose sinusitis as well as associated conditions which might have caused sinusitis.
Nasal swabs followed by microscopy can be used to detect the causative agent .
How can I prevent sinus infection?
Sinus infections can be prevented by air purification, treatment of underlying infections, staying in hygienic conditions and proper checkups are needed to prevent such infections.
Habits like shared smoke or snuff should be avoided.
Proper hydration of nasal and sinusoidal areas should be maintained, steam inhalation is a big saver from nasal-sinusoidal infections.
When should I call a doctor?
In case any of the symptoms exceed for more than a week and OTC anti inflammatory do not provide any relief or symptoms relapse after a short time.
Sinuses are air spaces around the nose and in the head, they are often infected by several bacteria, viruses or yeasts.
These infections are fairly common and are spread due to lifestyle and habits.
Repeated infections need to be addressed by a doctor and maintaining proper hygiene.
- Carr TF. Complications of Sinusitis. Am J Rhinol�Allergy 2016;30:241–5. https://doi.org/10.2500/ajra.2016.30.4322
- Lemiengre MB, van Driel ML, Merenstein D, Liira H, Mäkelä M, De Sutter AI. Antibiotics for acute rhinosinusitis in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Sep 10;9(9):CD006089.