By Pure Matters
Acute sinusitis is short-term, intense infection or inflammation of the membranes in your sinuses, the air-filled cavities in the bones around the eyes and behind the nose. Millions of Americans develop this common condition at least once a year, says the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Symptoms of sinusitis can affect the nose, eyes or middle ear.
Colds and allergies
When you have a cold, the lining of your nose becomes inflamed and produces mucus. If the swelling spreads to your sinuses, the small openings that allow them to drain become narrower. This traps air and mucus in your sinuses, making it easier for viruses, bacteria or -- rarely -- fungi to grow.
Allergies also cause inflammation of the nasal membranes and can prevent the body's removal of bacteria commonly present in sinuses, causing sinusitis. In fact, people who suffer from nasal allergies are more likely to get sinus infections, the NIAID says.
Symptoms of sinusitis
Pain above or below the eyes -- sometimes it feels as though it's in the upper teeth -- and facial pressure are classic signs of sinusitis. Facial discomfort may feel worse when you bend over or when you lower your head on a level with or below your heart. Other symptoms include:
- stuffy nose
- nasal blockage
- yellowish or gray-green mucus that doesn't go away
- aching in your upper jaw and teeth
- loss of smell or change in taste
- weakness and fatigue
- bad breath
- coughing that may worsen at night
- sore throat
- ear pressure
Because these symptoms don't always indicate sinusitis, your health care provider may need to determine what's causing them.
In some cases, your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial sinusitis. Your provider also may recommend self-care strategies, such as the following, to help ease your symptoms and make you feel more comfortable:
- Try an over-the-counter (OTC) decongestant to help relieve congestion in mucous membranes and restore sinus drainage. Taking an OTC medication that contains guaifenesin (Robitussin) along with plenty of water will help keep mucus thin, watery and flowing.
- Decongestant nasal sprays may work, too. But, use these sprays for no more than three days, or your congestion could get worse. Be sure to read the packaging before trying any OTC medication to make sure you can take it safely.
- Soothe your nasal passages by running a cool-mist vaporizer or using a saline nasal spray. Vaporizers should be cleaned daily or as instructed by the manufacturer.
- Temporarily ease discomfort or pain with an OTC pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen. But, don't give aspirin to anyone younger than age 19. It's linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but sometimes fatal condition.
If allergies are the cause of your sinusitis, your health care provider may suggest nasal antihistamines, cromolyn and topical steroid nasal sprays to help control allergic inflammation.