PDF A Simple Guide to Sinusitis, Treatment and Related Conditions (A simple Guide to Medical Conditions)

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Ralph Metson, a sinus specialist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, conducted a study of the effects of chronic sinusitis on daily functioning. Metson says he and his colleagues undertook the research because so many of his patients felt that no one understood how miserable sinusitis could be. Comparing the impact of chronic sinusitis with that of other chronic illnesses — including heart failure, back pain, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — the Harvard researchers found that sinusitis sufferers reported the highest levels of pain and the lowest levels of social functioning, as well as significant problems with work, energy, and mental health.

The paranasal sinuses comprise four pairs of sinuses that surround the nose and drain into the nasal cavity by way of narrow channels called ostia singular: ostium. Mucus leaving the frontal forehead and maxillary cheek sinuses drains through the ethmoid sinuses behind the bridge of the nose , so a backup in the ethmoids is likely to clog the other two types of sinuses. The sphenoid sinuses are located deep in the skull, behind the eyes.

Sinusitis develops when one or more sinuses become blocked. There are millions of bacteria in our noses, and most of the time, they're harmless. Even when a few creep into the sinuses, they don't cause trouble, as long as they keep draining into the nose along with mucus. But if sinus drainage is blocked, glands in the sinuses continue to produce mucus, and the resulting pool of backed-up mucus provides what Dr.

Metson calls "the perfect culture medium.

How to treat a sinus infection

The result: swelling, which causes headache and facial pain; mucus buildup, which produces congestion; and an influx of white blood cells to fight the bacteria, which thickens the mucus and may tint it yellow or green. Other symptoms include loss of smell or taste, cough, bad breath, fever, toothache, and fullness in the ears.

Sinus blockage can have a variety of environmental, anatomical, and genetic causes, but the main culprit is swelling of the nasal passages produced by the common cold or allergies. More serious sinusitis can result from structural problems, such as a deviated septum a crook in the partition that separates the right from left nasal cavities or nasal polyps small, grapelike growths in the lining of the sinus cavity. One of the simplest, cheapest, and most effective ways to prevent and treat sinus problems is nasal irrigation.

Using a homemade solution, you can often relieve sinusitis symptoms, reduce reliance on nasal sprays and antibiotics, and improve your quality of life. At least once a day, follow these steps:. Sinusitis is classified by how long it lasts. If several acute attacks occur within a year, it's called "recurrent. Most people with acute sinusitis get better without treatment , although you can ease the symptoms and reduce the likelihood of needing stronger medicine if you keep your nasal passages clear with a few low-tech preventive techniques see "Preventing sinusitis".

It's hard to predict who will develop chronic sinusitis, but knowing more about the two main types can help you decide how to treat your symptoms and when to see a clinician. Here are the basics:. Acute sinusitis. Acute sinusitis usually starts with a cold. Viruses, not bacteria, cause colds, so it's useless to treat them with antibiotics. But when a cold turns into sinusitis, it means that blocked nasal passages have set off a secondary infection caused by bacteria and you may eventually need an antibiotic.

Rarely, especially in people with weakened immune systems, a fungal infection is the cause. If symptoms are severe and last for more than a week, you may want to see your primary care clinician. Based on your symptoms and a look inside your nose with a small flashlight, she or he can usually tell whether sinusitis has settled in.

If you do have sinusitis, you may be prescribed an antibiotic, especially if preventive drainage strategies aren't helping. Antibiotics are usually given for 10 to 14 days, but trials suggest that in some cases, three to seven days are sufficient. The first choice is often amoxicillin or amoxicillin combined with clavulanate Augmentin. Many clinicians have found that a five-day course of azithromycin Zithromax also works well.

For the pain, try a warm compress on your face, or inhale steam see "Preventing sinusitis". An over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen can also relieve facial pain, as well as headache and fever. Chronic sinusitis. If symptoms linger or keep returning, you may have chronic sinusitis, a more complex disorder that calls for evaluation by an ear, nose, and throat ENT specialist also called an otolaryngologist. She or he will order a CT scan of your nose and sinuses and examine the nasal cavity with a thin lighted tube endoscope to look for causes of the blockage.

Blood and allergy tests and bacterial cultures may also be needed.


Nasal irrigation and decongestants can help in the treatment of chronic sinusitis by keeping mucus loose and nasal passages clear. Periorbital edema in a child requires prompt assessment for orbital cellulitis and possible surgical intervention to prevent visual impairment and intracranial infection. In acute sinusitis, improved drainage and control of infection are the aims of therapy. Steam inhalation; hot, wet towels over the affected sinuses; and hot beverages help alleviate nasal vasoconstriction and promote drainage.

Topical vasoconstrictors, such as phenylephrine 0. Systemic vasoconstrictors, such as pseudoephedrine 30 mg po for adults q 4 to 6 hours, are less effective. Saline nasal irrigation may help symptoms slightly but is cumbersome and uncomfortable, and patients require teaching to execute it properly; it may thus be better for patients with recurrent sinusitis, who are more likely to master and tolerate the technique. Corticosteroid nasal sprays can help relieve symptoms but typically take at least 10 days to be effective.

Although most cases of community-acquired acute sinusitis are viral and resolve spontaneously, previously many patients were given antibiotics because of the difficulty in clinically distinguishing viral from bacterial infection. However, current concerns about creation of antibiotic-resistant organisms have led to a more selective use of antibiotics.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America suggests the following characteristics help identify patients who should be started on antibiotics:. Worsening sinus symptoms after initially improving from a typical viral URI "double sickening" or biphasic illness. Patients at risk of resistance include those who are under 2 years of age or over 65 years, who have received antibiotics in the previous month, who have been hospitalized within the past 5 days, and those who are immunocompromised. Adults with penicillin allergy may receive doxycycline or a respiratory fluoroquinolone eg, levofloxacin , moxifloxacin.

Children with penicillin allergy may receive levofloxacin , or clindamycin plus a 3rd-generation oral cephalosporin cefixime or cefpodoxime.

If there is improvement within 3 to 5 days, the drug is continued. Adults without risk factors for resistance are treated for 5 to 7 days total; other adults are treated for 7 to 10 days. Children are treated for 10 to 14 days.

Chronic sinusitis - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic

If there is no improvement in 3 to 5 days, a different drug is used. Emergency surgery is needed if there is vision loss or an imminent possibility of vision loss. Clinical Infectious Diseases 54 8 —5 In exacerbations of chronic sinusitis in children or adults, the same antibiotics are used, but treatment is given for 4 to 6 weeks. Sinusitis unresponsive to antibiotic therapy may require surgery maxillary sinusotomy, ethmoidectomy, or sphenoid sinusotomy to improve ventilation and drainage and to remove inspissated mucopurulent material, epithelial debris, and hypertrophic mucous membrane.

These procedures usually are done intranasally with the aid of an endoscope. Chronic frontal sinusitis may be managed either with osteoplastic obliteration of the frontal sinuses or endoscopically in selected patients. The use of intraoperative computer-aided surgery to localize disease and prevent injury to surrounding contiguous structures such as the eye and brain has become common. Nasal obstruction that is contributing to poor drainage may also require surgery.

Diagnosis is clinical; CT and cultures obtained endoscopically or through sinus puncture are done mainly for chronic, refractory, or atypical cases. Antibiotics may be withheld pending a trial of symptomatic treatment, the duration of which depends on the severity and timing of symptoms. Aggressive and even fatal fungal or bacterial sinusitis can occur in patients who are immunocompromised because of poorly controlled diabetes, neutropenia, or HIV infection. Mucormycosis zygomycosis, also sometimes called phycomycosis is a mycosis due to fungi of the order Mucorales, including species of Mucor , Absidia , and Rhizopus.

This mycosis may develop in patients with poorly controlled diabetes. It is characterized by black, devitalized tissue in the nasal cavity and neurologic signs secondary to retrograde thromboarteritis in the carotid arterial system. Diagnosis is based on histopathologic demonstration of mycelia in the avascularized tissue.

Prompt biopsy of intranasal tissue for histology and culture is warranted.

Sinus Problems - The REAL Cause & How to Heal Your Sinus Forever

Treatment requires control of the underlying condition such as reversal of ketoacidosis in diabetes , surgical debridement of necrotic tissue, and IV amphotericin B therapy. Aspergillus and Candida spp may infect the paranasal sinuses of patients who are immunocompromised secondary to therapy with cytotoxic drugs or to immunosuppressive diseases, such as leukemia , lymphoma , multiple myeloma , and AIDS.

These infections can appear as polypoid tissue in the nose as well as thickened mucosa; tissue is required for diagnosis. Aggressive paranasal sinus surgery and IV amphotericin B therapy are used to control these often-fatal infections. If mucormycosis is excluded, voriconazole , with or without an echinocandin eg, caspofungin , micafungin , anidulafungin , can be used instead of amphotericin.

From developing new therapies that treat and prevent disease to helping people in need, we are committed to improving health and well-being around the world. The Merck Manual was first published in as a service to the community. Learn more about our commitment to Global Medical Knowledge. Common Health Topics. Videos Figures Images Quizzes. Commonly Searched Drugs. Risk factors. Symptoms and Signs. Antibiotic treatment.

Key Points. More Information. Invasive Sinusitis in Immunocompromised Patients. Mucormycosis Aspergillosis and candidiasis. Test your knowledge. Malignant external otitis is often initiated by Pseudomonas external otitis. Which of the following has also been identified as a cause? Add to Any Platform.

Sinusitis By Marvin P. Click here for Patient Education.