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What is sinusitis and how to prevent it

What is sinusitis and how to prevent it

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is inflammation of the mucosa of the paranasal sinuses that can be caused by a fungus, bacteria or virus, or by an allergy . The paranasal sinuses are small spaces filled with air; They are divided into frontal sinuses (they are in the front part of the skull, located above the nose, that is, in the forehead), ethmoid sinuses (they are located on the sides of the nose, between the bones) and maxillary sinuses (located in cheeks). In normal situations, air passes through the sinuses without problem; However, people who suffer from sinusitis have these spaces blocked and suffer discomfort and difficulties when breathing .

Inflammation of the sinus mucosa (sinusitis) is normally associated with inflammation of the mucosa of the nasal cavity (rhinitis), which is then called rhinosinusitis.

It is a very common pathology in the general population, it can present with a wide variety of symptoms and, in some cases, It can have a significant impact on the quality of life of patients .

Types of sinusitis

There are two types of sinusitis, which are determined by the duration of the disease and its symptoms:

  • Acute sinusitis : its duration is less than 12 weeks. It is a very common pathology and a prevalence is estimated between 6 and 15%. Caused mainly by viral infections and sometimes known as the common cold. It is more common in winter times.

    It is estimated that 0.5 and 2% of these acute viral rhinosinusitis will become bacterial, then characterized by the presence of purulent mucus, fever, intense unilateral pain, worsening after the start of recovery. In these cases the use of systemic antibiotics is indicated.

  • Chronic sinusitis : its duration is equal to or greater than 12 weeks. With an estimated prevalence of between 2 and 16% of the population. There are two main types: with polyps and without them. Due to its chronic course and annoying symptoms, the most serious subtypes of these sinusitis can cause a great alteration in the patient's quality of life.

Symptoms of sinusitis

In the acute form of sinusitis, there is facial pain, pressure, nasal obstruction, rhinorrhea (a heavy flow of nasal mucus), decreased sense of smell, and cough. Fever, shortness of breath, fatigue and dental pain may also appear.

In chronic sinusitis there may be: facial pain, a sensation of facial pressure, nasal congestion, nasal obstruction, thick rhinorrhea, posterior rhinorrhea and the presence of pus in the nasal cavity.

Sometimes it can also present fever and can cause headache, difficulty breathing and fatigue. Symptoms may persist for twelve weeks or more.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Facial pain.
  • Nasal obstruction.
  • Rhinorrhea (runny nose).
  • Postnasal drip.
  • Decreased sense of smell.
  • Headaches.

Causes of sinusitis

The main causes of this pathology are infections , whether viral (the most frequent), bacterial and fungal . There are other causes related to the inflammatory mechanisms and the patient's own immune system.

Factors that predispose to sinusitis:

  • Climatic variations: colder seasons and increased humidity predispose to a greater probability of suffering from sinusitis.
  • Tobacco: Both being an active smoker and being exposed to its smoke is a predisposing factor in this pathology.
  • Environmental or occupational exposures to pollution, irritants used in industry, and exposure to smoke.
  • Individual anatomical variations (septal and nasal septal deviations, lack of development of the paranasal sinuses, a nasal bone spur or the presence of nasal polyps).
  • Allergies: unclear relationship with acute sinusitis, but demonstrated in the case of chronic sinusitis, along with asthma .
  • Associated diseases: alterations in mucociliary clearance (the cilia or hairs that are located inside the paranasal openings cannot remove the mucus due to some condition), cystic fibrosis , vasculitis .
  • Have a weak immune system, due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or to treatments such as chemotherapy .
  • Hypertrophy of adenoids (lymphatic tissue found in the airways between the nose and the back of the throat).
  • Submission to forces such as gravity and pressure: flying, diving, mountaineering, etc.

How to prevent sinusitis?

  • Prevents upper respiratory tract infections. Try to stay away from people who have colds or other infections. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially before meals.
  • Control your allergies. Work with your doctor to keep symptoms under control.
  • Avoid cigarette smoke and polluted air. Tobacco smoke and pollutants can irritate and inflame the lungs and nasal passages.
  • Use a humidifier. If the air in your home is dry, such as when you have forced-air heating, adding moisture to the air can help prevent sinusitis. Make sure your humidifier is always clean and mold-free by washing it thoroughly on a regular basis.

"Because prevention is better than cure"
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