Sinusitis, or medically known as Rhinosinusitis, is an excruciating viral infection that affects the sinuses and mucus membranes in your face, causing them to swell or become inflamed. If you suspect you have Sinusitis, it is important you receive a diagnosis and furthermore, that you are treated – otherwise you could be unwell for as long as 3 weeks while the infection clears on its own. Read on for our detailed guide on what Sinusitis is, and how you can rid your body of it fast.
What are the symptoms of Sinusitis?
A bought of Sinusitis comes with lots of painful and even debilitating symptoms, so chances are, you will know you are poorly before you are diagnosed, even if you are not aware you have an infection. If you have suspected Sinusitis, you may have experienced several of the following symptoms, which are typical of a viral infection:
• You may have pressure in your face, which hurts to the touch or as you bend over
• You may have sore, swollen sinuses (refer to our sinus diagram (link) if you are unsure of where your sinuses are located)
• Perhaps you’ve experienced fits of sneezing and/or coughing – the cough feels mucusy rather than dry or irritating
• You might have lost your sense of smell, which is called Hyposmia
• Discharge or liquid may drip freely from the nose, which is thinner than snot
• You might have a fever (a temperature upwards of 38C)
• Perhaps you have the chills, or feel like your bones are cold from the inside out
• Your neck may be stiff or sore
If you have any of the above symptoms in tandem, it is important you visit your GP or ear, nose, and throat specialist to get checked over. Unsure if you have Sinusitis and need further information? Carry on reading or get in touch with our ENT specialists today.
How do you get Sinusitis?
Let’s begin by looking at where the sinuses are located – as often, the pain you experience with them can be felt under your eyes, in your forehead, down the sides of your jaw, and even in your teeth. Because of this, Sinusitis can be mistaken for toothache, headache, or another type of localised pain, meaning the infection can be left untreated and has the potential to get worse. Worse still, you might end up visiting your dentist instead of a specialist ENT department, which can waste time and leave you feeling confused about the treatment you need to obtain. There are actually four different types of sinus, all of which can be affected by Sinusitis, or a sinus infection. Here is where the sinuses are positioned on your face:
1. Frontal Sinus – above your eyebrows
2. Sphenoid Sinus – down the bridge of your nose, and between your eyes
3. Ethmoid Sinuses – down the bridge of your nose, and either side of the Sphenoid sinus
4. Maxillary Sinus – underneath your eyes, and either side of your nose
Now, let’s explore how Sinusitis manifests within the sinuses. The main way people contract Sinusitis is after they’ve had an upper respiratory condition or a bought of illness which affects the function of their nose. It’s also an airborne virus. Sinusitis can hang around long after the initial illness has faded away, as bacteria is known as the main reason for it. Here are the main ways you can get Sinusitis:
1) After you’ve had the common cold
2) After you’ve had the flu
3) In tandem with nasal polyps
4) As the result of an allergic reaction caused by particles in dust and dander
5) As a result of poor environmental conditions which could affect your respiratory system
6) Due to a fungal condition (though rare)
It is well worth noting that Sinusitis is categorised as either `acute` or `chronic`, depending on the severity of the condition and your accompanying symptoms. Your GP or ear, nose, and throat specialist will let you know which type of Sinusitis you have at the diagnosis, if you do have it.
How is Sinusitis diagnosed?
Acute or chronic Sinusitis can be diagnosed by a doctor or ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. The usual recommendation is that you seek medical advice if you have been poorly with symptoms for 10 days or more, and then your doctor or specialist will carry out the various tests to diagnose and treat your condition. There is a handful of ways Sinusitis can be diagnosed, including:
1) By nasal endoscopy or a small tube with a camera attached inserted into your nasal sinus
2) By CT scan, if specially requested by your GP or ENT specialist
3) By swab, to determine if fungus or harmful bacteria are present in the nasal sinus or sinuses
4) By allergy test, if allergies are thought to be the cause of your Sinusitis
What treatment is available for Sinusitis?
As aforementioned, Sinusitis typically lasts 2-3 weeks if you leave it to go away on its own, but there is potential for it to go away quicker with medical treatment or the use of home remedies. Medical treatment for Sinusitis is either prescribed by your GP or ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, or you can buy over the counter. If you are diagnosed with Sinusitis, you may be prescribed:
• Antihistamines, if the Sinusitis was caused by an allergy
• Antibiotics, if it was caused by a bacterial infection
• Steroids in the form of nasal drops or sprays
Many sufferers of Sinusitis opt to use home remedies rather than seeking medical treatment, or they use a mix of both to ensure they are comfortable and the pain eases while they recover. Known home remedies of Sinusitis includes, but is not limited to:
• Stay hydrated and ensure you drink lots of water
• Get plenty of rest and make sure you go to bed early
• Take time off work or social activities until you feel well enough and to allow your body time to recuperate and avoid further aggravations to your Sinusitis
• Eat potent foods induced with viral-fighting properties, like garlic, ginger, and onions
• Lean over a hot bowl of water to steam your sinuses and ease nasal pressure, or have a hot shower with the windows and doors shut
• Use vapour incense or sticks and rubs to unblock your nasal passages
• Make a delicious potion with antibacterial ingredients, like tea with ginger and honey
Though home remedies are proven to help ease the pain and discomfort of Sinusitis, it is always advised you seek advice from your GP or an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, especially if you have been poorly with symptoms for more than 10 days and there is no sign of your condition easing.
Sinusitis: Frequently Asked Questions
1. How long does Sinusitis last? Often, the infection lasts 2-3 weeks but can clear up quicker with medication
2. What’s the difference between Sinusitis and Coronavirus (Covid-19)? Coronavirus doesn’t cause nasal blockages nor does it produce discharge. Instead, the Covid virus normally causes a dry, persistent cough
3. What’s the similarity between Sinusitis and Coronavirus (Covid-19)? Both a sinus infection like Sinusitis and Coronavirus (Covid-19) can cause a high temperature, which is 38C or above. Both illnesses also cause a loss of functions such as taste and smell. If you have a temperature upwards of 38C or your sense of taste or smell has changed or deteriorated, you should order a Covid-19 testing kit. Do not make an appointment with your GP or at your ENT clinic about suspected Sinusitis unless you have tested negative for Covid-19 first
Do you have symptoms of Sinusitis?
If you’re worried you have the nasal sinus infection Sinusitis, you ought to be examined by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist in order to determine whether you have it or not. It’s also important to obtain further advice on ways you can treat your type of Sinusitis, especially because there are various types and causes. Contact our ear, nose, and throat specialists at 150 Harley Street ENT Clinic for expert advice on your suspected Sinusitis today.