Sinusitis is an inflammatory process involving the nasal sinuses- hollow cavities within the cheek bones, behind the nose and eyes. The inflammation may be infectious in nature, from viral, bacterial or fungal growth or due to ongoing allergic process.

Sinusitis affects 31-35 million Americans and it may last for months or years if inadequately treated. Sinusitis can affect the nose, eyes or middle ear. Symptoms may include colored nasal drainage, excessive postnasal drip, cough, facial pain and an accompanying headache.

Types of sinusitis

Acute sinusitis, which is often caused by a bacterial infection and usually develops as a complication five to ten days after the first symptoms of common cold.

Chronic sinusitis, which also may be cause by bacterial infection, but is more often caused by chronic allergic inflammation similarly seen in bronchial asthma.

People with allergies may be predisposed to develop sinusitis. Allergies can trigger inflammation of the sinuses and nasal mucous linings. This inflammation prevents the sinus cavities from clearing out bacteria, and increase chances of developing secondary bacterial sinusitis.

People with recurring or chronic sinusitis may benefit from having an allergy evaluation. Structural problems in the nose, such as narrow drainage passages, deviated septum or nasal polyps may be another cause of sinusitis. Surgery is sometimes needed to correct these problems.

To make a correct diagnosis, a physician must take a detailed history and perform a physical examination. A physician may also order tests such as sinus X-ray, CT scan, allergy testing or a sampling of the nasal secretions.The physician also may perform an endoscopic examination. This involves inserting a narrow, flexible fiber-optic scope into the nasal cavity through the nostrils, which allows the physician to view the area where the sinuses drain into the nose.

Sinus infections generally require a combination of medications. In addition to prescribing an antibiotic when the sinusitis is caused by bacterial infection, your physician may prescribe a medication to reduce the blockage or control allergies. This will keep the sinus passages open.For people with allergies, long-term treatment to control and reduce allergic inflammation can be effective in preventing the development of sinusitis. This treatment may include immunotherapy (allergy shots), anti-inflammatory medications, decongestants and environmental control measures. Regular irrigation of the nasal passages may also be beneficial. Nasal Irrigation

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