Posted by Gunjan Mehra on January 20, 2009

Last few years have witnessed a rise in the cases of sinusitis. This is especially true for those residing in cities. This escalation can be attributed to increased pollution levels, urban sprawl and enhanced resistance to antibiotics.

However mild the ailment may seem, it should not be taken lightly and necessary cautions are a must to prevent the serious risks associated with the condition.

Dr. Ravi Ramalingam and Prof. K.K. Ramalingam, Channai based ENT consultants, warn patients suffering from sinusitis and suggest not taking the ailment lightly. They add, “Not seeking treatment will result in unnecessary pain and discomfort. In rare circumstances, meningitis or brain abscess and infection of the bone or bone marrow can occur.”

What are Sinuses

To put it simply, sinuses are tiny air chambers that lie behind your cheeks, eyebrows and jaws that are responsible for the secretion of mucus. Mucus is a fluid that has been entrusted the responsibility of cleaning bacteria and other harmful particles present in the air that we breathe. Tiny nasal hair called cilia sweep mucus out of the sinuses. They are thus these tiny nasal hairs in alliance with mucus that purify the air we breathe.

What is Sinusitis

Ever heard someone say “I am suffering from a sinusdefine attack”? Well, what happens under such conditions is that the membrane lining of one of the sinuses gets inflamed which results into severe pain around the eye sockets. There are two kinds of sinusitis – Acute and chronic.
According to Dr. Ramalingam, “Acute sinusitis is a short-term condition that responds well to antibiotics and decongestants; chronic sinusitis is characterized by at least four recurrences of acute sinusitis. Either medication or surgery is a possible treatment.”

What causes Sinusitis

Sinusitis can be triggered by the minutest of reasons, such as a change in temperature or air pressure. Allergies are another causative agent of sinusitis. Excessive use of decongestant nasal sprays or drops, smoking, frequent or too much of swimming or even diving can augment your risk of developing sinusitis. Internal nasal growths called polyps that result into sinus blockage can also instigate the ailment.

Sometimes, a bacterial or a viral infection can infect the sinuses. Often this can happen as an after effect of a cold. The cold virus attacks the lining of your sinuses, causing them to swell and become narrow. Your body responds to the virus by producing more mucus, which gets blocked in your swollen sinuses. This built-up mucus is a good place for bacterial growth. We can thus conclude that anything that causes swelling in your sinuses or prevents the cilia to move the mucus can set off sinusitis.

How to Hit the Ailment Back

The onset of sinusitis is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to you. The unbearable pain and restlessness associated with the malady is capable of driving you up the wall. Here are a few tips that might come to your rescue when the symptoms hit.

• Rest. Get as much rest as possible. Lying down on your sides, popped up with a pillow or two, can enable a more easy breathing.
• You can try opening up the sinuses and relieving the pressure by local application of moist heat. Hold a warm, wet towel to your face and gently breathe in the warm steam through it.
• Treat your body with a lavish intake of liquids preferably hot drinks. Any sort of cold liquid intake is a strict no…no…
• Pay a visit to your doctor before using any over the counter cold medicine. Cold medicines are often fatal, for they can make the symptoms worse or even cause other problems.
• Do not, under any circumstances, administer a nose spray with a decongestant for more than three days. The swelling may worsen once you stop using the nose spray.
• Alcohols are harmful too, for they too can result into a further swelling of the sinuses.
• Rinsing your sinus passage with saline solution is often a huge help.

Respite for Acute Sinusitis

It’s not doom’s day for those suffering from acute sinusitis. In such cases, the nasal passage may be blocked by very thick mucous membrane. Under such circumstances when all the other measures fail to provide respite, surgery might be the only option left. The most common surgery done today is functional endoscopic sinus surgery. This surgery solves the problem by enlarging the sinuses and allowing drainage of mucous. This type of surgery is less insidious than the conventional surgery and serious complications or recurrences are rare.

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