Colds are common during the winter months and unfortunately they can sometimes lead to sinus trouble. If you’re feeling increasingly congested and experiencing pain in the forehead, you may have sinusitis. Here’s what you need to know about the condition.
What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is a condition in which the lining of the sinuses – the small, air-filled cavities behind your cheekbones and forehead – become inflamed. This inflammation blocks the channels through which mucus usually drains into your nose.
What Causes It?
Sinusitis is usually the result of a cold or flu virus spreading to the sinuses from the upper airways and infecting the sinuses. Occasionally, there are cases where it is caused by bacteria infecting the sinuses. In some cases, an infected tooth or fungal infection can also cause the sinuses to become inflamed.
Sometimes sinusitis can become chronic but it is unclear why. However, it has been associated with allergies, nasal polyps (growths inside the nose), smoking and a weakened immune system.
What are the Symptoms?
As sinusitis usually occurs after a cold, cold symptoms are likely to persist along with some of the following symptoms:
- A green or yellow discharge from your nose
- A blocked nose
- Pain and tenderness around your cheeks, eyes or forehead
- Sinus headache
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- A reduced sense of smell
While these symptoms will usually only last for a few weeks, they can sometimes last much longer. Those with chronic sinusitis can experience them for three months or even longer.
How is Sinusitis Treated?
Most of the time, sinusitis can be treated at home. Taking over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, and holding warm packs to your face can help to reduce your discomfort. It can also be helpful to use nasal decongestants, although these shouldn’t be used for more than a week as this can make things worse.
If your symptoms don’t improve at all within 7-10 days or they get worse, you should see your GP. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or corticosteroid spray or drops. If your symptoms still persist after these treatments, you may be referred to a specialist for surgery.
Sinusitis is a common condition and usually a manageable one. If you experience symptoms, keep your discomfort to a minimum with painkillers and it will usually clear up on its own.
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