Sinusitis is an inflammation or swelling of the tissue lining the sinuses. Sinuses are four paired hollow spaces connected by narrow channels within the bones between your eyes, behind your cheekbones, and in your forehead. The sinuses make thin mucus that drains out of the channels of the nose. This drainage helps keep the nose clean and free of bacteria. Sinuses keeps the inside of your nose moist. That, in turn, helps protect against dust, allergens, and pollutants.
Healthy sinuses are filled with air. But when they become blocked and filled with fluid, germs can grow and cause an infection
The paranasal sinuses are located in your head near your nose and eyes. They are named after the bones that provide their structure.
• The ethmoidal sinuses are located between your eyes.
• The maxillary sinuses are located below your eyes.
• The sphenoidal sinuses are located behind your eyes.
• The frontal sinuses are located above your eyes.
The biggest sinus cavity is the maxillary cavity, and it is one of the cavities that most often becomes infected.
There are different types of sinusitis:
• Acute bacterial sinusitis
This term refers to a sudden onset of cold symptoms such as runny nose, stuffy nose, and facial pain that does not go away after 10 days, or symptoms that seem to improve but then return and are worse than the initial symptoms (termed “double sickening”). It responds well to antibiotics and decongestants.
• Chronic sinusitis
This term refers to a condition defined by nasal congestion, drainage, facial pain/pressure, and decreased sense of smell for at least 12 weeks.
• Subacute sinusitis
This term is used when the symptoms last four to twelve weeks.
• Recurrent acute sinusitis
This term is used when the symptoms come back four or more times in one year and last less than two weeks each time.
Sign & Symptoms –
The symptoms of sinusitis are similar to those of a common cold. They may include –
• decreased sense of smell
• stuffy or runny nose
• headache from sinus pressure
It may be difficult for caregivers to detect sinusitis in a child. Signs include:
• cold symptoms that do not improve within 10 to 14 days
• allergy symptoms that do not respond to medication
• a lingering cough
• a fever above 102.2°F (39°C), which is considered a high fever
• thick green or yellow mucus coming from the nose
Sinusitis can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungus that swells and blocks the sinuses. A few specific causes include:
• The common cold.
• Nasal and seasonal allergies, including allergies to mold.
• Polyps (growths).
• A deviated septum. The septum is the line of cartilage that divides your nose. A deviated septum means that it isn’t straight, so that it is closer to the nasal passage on one side of your nose, causing a blockage.
• A weak immune system from illness or medications.
For infants and young children, spending time in day cares, using pacifiers or drinking bottles while lying down could increase the chances of getting sinusitis.
Risk Factors –
The following may increase the risk that an adult or child will develop sinusitis –
• Allergic rhinitis or hay fever
• Cystic fibrosis
• Going to day care
• Diseases that prevent the cilia from working properly
• Changes in altitude (flying or scuba diving)
• Large adenoids
• Weakened immune system from HIV or chemotherapy
• Abnormal sinus structures
Although very rare, complications may include –
• Bone infection (osteomyelitis)
• Skin infection around the eye (orbital cellulitis)
Often, your healthcare provider can diagnosis sinusitis based on your symptoms and a physical exam. Sometimes other tests are done. These may include –
• Cultures from the nose
• Sinus X-rays
• Sinus computed tomography (CT or CAT scan).
• Blood tests
Most sinusitis cases are caused by viral infections and may not require treatment. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications and home remedies may help ease your symptoms, though.
▪︎ Nasal congestion
Nasal congestion is one of the most common symptoms of sinusitis. Try these tips to help reduce nasal congestion –
• To help relieve the feeling of pain from sinus pressure, apply a warm, damp cloth to your face and forehead several times a day.
• Perform a nasal saline rinse to help clear the thick and sticky mucus from your nose.
• Drink water and juice to stay hydrated and help thin the mucus. You can use an OTC medication, such as guaifenesin, that thins mucus.
• Use a humidifier in your bedroom to add moisture to the air. Turn on the shower and sit in the bathroom with the door closed to surround yourself with steam.
• Consider using an OTC nasal corticosteroid spray. There are decongestants available over the counter, but you may want to consider asking a doctor before trying one.
▪︎ Pain medications
In rare cases, sinusitis can trigger a sinus headache or pressure in your forehead and cheeks. OTC medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen can help if you’re in pain.
If your symptoms do not improve within a few weeks, you likely have a bacterial infection and should see a doctor. You may need antibiotic therapy if you have symptoms that do not improve.
If your chronic sinusitis does not improve with time and medication, you may undergo surgery to:
• clear the sinuses
• repair a deviated septum
• remove polyps
Ayurvedic Perspective –
In Ayurveda, acute sinusitis is due to aggravated kapha and vata in the region above the clavicle (collar bone).
Treatment modalities involve ayurvedic detoxification (panchakarma), external therapies, internal medications, diet and lifestyle modifications.
Nasya plays a very important role in treating sinusitis.
• Nasya. In Ayurveda, acute sinusitis is due to aggravated kapha and vata in the region introduces drops of medicated oil into the nasal passages where it penetrates the mucosal lining and promotes healing of the nose and sinus region. Accompanied by a gentle sinus massage, nasya stimulates energy movement and healing in the area. Nasya also prevents recurrence of sinusitis.
• Shirodhara (pouring of warm medicated oil on the forehead)
• Oil pulling (swishing of warm oil around the mouth and gums)
• Neti – sinus rinse with salt water (needs special instruction and advice from your ayurvedic practitioner)
• Steam inhalation– Add either ginger, eucalyptus oil, clove oil or other medicated herbs (as prescribed) to boiling water in a bowl. Place face over the bowl at a comfortable distance, with a towel over the head, and gently inhale the steam for 10-15 minutes. Repeat 2-3 times/day while your condition is active, and then once/day for maintenance.
Some ayurvedic herbs and formulae useful for managing sinusitis include –
• Haridra Khanda
• Chitraka Haritaki
• Vyosadi Vatakam
• Tribhuvankirti Ras
• Mahalaxmivilas Ras
• Sitopaladi Churna
• Talishadi Churna
Do’s and Don’ts –
• Avoid exposure to any specific allergens and cool breezes.
• Avoid cold and refrigerated food and drink, including cold water
• Avoid dairy foods while you are treating sinusitis.
• Eat warm and cooked food and drink only hot or warm water.
• Include warming spices like black pepper, garlic, ginger, fenugreek and turmeric regularly in your diet.
• Practice breathing exercise (pranayama–anulom-vilom, kapalbhati)
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