Sinusitis or sinus infection is the inflammation of the sinuses and passages of the nose. Sinus infection causes pressure in the eyes, cheek area, and nose, on a side of the head or headache. A person with sinusitis experiences cough, bad breath, fever, nasal congestion and nasal secretions. It is categorized as acute and chronic.
The sinuses have defences that have capability in fighting virus and bacteria.
Acute sinusitis last less than 8 weeks or 3 times every year with episodes lasting for ten days or less. Medications are always effective on acute sinusitis. Chronis sinusitis last more than 8 weeks and recurs 4 times a year with symptoms lasting for 20 days of more.
After a viral infection, sinusitis usually follows. Pollutants or allergens may also cause acute sinusitis. Viral infection destructs the sinuses lining cells which lead to inflammation. This causes the lining to thicken causing obstruction to the nasal passages. This disrupts the bacteria removal process that is normally present in the passages. The bacteria start to multiply and invade the sinus lining and cause the symptoms of sinus infection. Pollutants and allergens have the same effect.
Streptococcus pneumonia, Moraxella catarrhalis and Haemophilus influenza are the bacteria that cause sinus infection. They are also involved in the development of chronic sinusitis.
In people with weak immune system, fungi can also be the cause of chronic sinusitis.
Signs and Symptoms
· Mucus drips behind the nose down the throat sometimes accompanied by a sore throat. This is called as postnasal drip.
· Pressure or pain around the corner of the eye, cheek bone and upper teeth.
· Pain when straining, coughing or lying on back
· Visual disturbances like double vision if the pressure is extended in the brain
· Pain worsens with flu colds or allergy
Assessment of medical history and physical examination is the basis of diagnosis. It is important to distinguish sinusitis from a common cold or upper respiratory tract infection. Sinusitis that is caused by bacteria is treated with antibiotics. Therefore, it is important to identify viral from bacterial cause. Over treatment of viral infection with antibiotics is dangerous.
Diagnosing of sinus infection doesn’t require any test but if a test if required, CT scan is usually done. CT scan can clearly show the nasal passages, paranasal sinuses and surrounding structures. A CT scan indicating sinus infection presents any of these conditions:
· Air or fluid levels in 1 or more sinuses
· Complete blockage to one or more sinuses
· Thickening of the sinuses inner lining
· Mucosal thickening may also occur in people without sinusitis symptoms. Findings in the CT scan must be coordinated with physical examination results of the patient to rule out sinusititis.
Ultrasound is a non-invasive diagnostic tool. It is reliable, fast and less expensive compared to CT scan though the results are not that detailed. But ultrasound is accepted for sinus infection diagnosis by medical professionals especially with nose, ear and throat physicians.