Sinus infection is one of the most common health problems that most of us have. This infection is described as the swelling or inflammation of nasal passage and the sinuses. In America alone, more that thirty million people suffer from it and a third of them have made visits to health practitioners for chronic sinusitis. So, what are the signs of a sinus infection and its causes?
The human head or skull has four major pairs of hollow air-filled-cavities, which we call sinuses. These cavities are connected to the space behind the nose and the nostrils. There are four major pairs of sinuses: frontal, maxillary, ethmoid and sphenoid. These are located in the forehead, behind the cheekbones, between the eyes and behind the eyes, respectively. These sinuses act as our defense against germs and viruses. With their mucous layer and cells that contain cilia, they help trap and drive away bacteria and pollutants.
While some only suffer from this for a few days, there are some who have the misfortune of acquiring chronic sinusitis, which may last more than eight weeks. There are also others who acquire acute sinusitis that usually last than two months. These usually require the help of medications to alleviate the pain and swelling.
Causes of Sinus Infection
- Viruses: Sinus infections usually start with a cold. As we all know, a virus that can make the nasal tissue swell and block the holes, which drain sinuses, causes colds. To prevent having a cold and sinusitis, it would be best to get a flu shot and stay away from those who are sick. Washing hands is commonly overlooked by most of us, but it is one of the best ways to prevent contracting a virus or illness. This is especially important for those working in a medical or health facility, as they have more chances of carrying virus with them to their home. The moment you become aware of someone experiencing signs of a sinus infection, avoid touching that person but if you do, wash your hands afterwards.
- Bacteria: If your cold does not go away in two weeks, then you may have bacteria and virus in your system. Bacteria may not be a primary cause of sinus infection, but it can certainly complicate it. We all have bacteria in us, but they may grow when combined with a virus.
If you ever develop bacterial sinusitis, it is essential that it be treated with antibiotics. It is also important that you take the right antibiotics with the help of your doctor.
- Nasal Polyps: Another unexpected cause is the small, benign growths from the nose and sinus tissues known as nasal polyps. These polyps blocks sinus cavities, which consequently restrict airway passages and trigger headaches. It is therefore important to check whether you have polyps or not. These polyps are treated with oral steroids, and if they do not work, surgery may be another option.
- Pollutants: If you have asthma or allergies, your sinusitis may be caused by pollutants and allergens in the air. These allergens can take the form of dust in the air or even from a strong-smelling perfume. If you want to breathe better, you might want to buy an air purifier.
Signs of A Sinus Infection
Below are the common signs of a sinus infection. If you have two or more of these signs, then you may be suffering from it and might want to check with your health practitioner if the symptoms persist.
- Headache: Because of the swelling in your face and the blockage of your sinuses, your muscles around the forehead and top of the head causing you to have a terrible headache.
- Pain and pressure in the face : Our sinuses play a significant role in allowing us to breathe easily and feel light. If you feel some pain or pressure in your face, along with a feeling of heaviness in the head, then these are sure signs of a sinus infection.
- Pain during movement : One of the telltale signs of sinus infection is having pain during movement. You may notice that when you lean forward, you feel slightly off balanced. This is due to the inflammation of the sinuses, which takes away the sense of balance that you perceive in your head.
- Clogged Nose: When you have sinusitis, your blood immediately fights against the virus by increasing its blood flow. This then causes the nose tissues to swell, giving you a stuffy nose. This is one of the classic signs of a sinus infection and cold. The best way to tell whether you have a sinusitis is that it lasts longer than a cold.
- Halitosis: Commonly known as bad breath, halitosis, happens as an effect of the colored discharge that accumulates in your sinuses and then eventually dripping into the back of your throat. So essentially, your breath is made bad because of the odor of the infection itself. Another contributor in aggravating bad breath is the use of medication, such as antibiotics.
- Fever: To kill the bacteria, your body raises its temperature, causing you to have a fever. While a simple congestion may not result in running a temperature, a sinus infection can.
Having a low-grade temperature is not only one of the classic symptoms of a sinus infection, but it is also a sign that the infection may be longer. So, if your fever is getting worse, it is best that you see a doctor.
- Teeth Pain: You may not believe it, but this is one of the most surprising signs. While you may think that you are having a toothache, this is not what is actually happening. The cause of teeth pain is the pressure that is building inside your head, which makes you feel as if you are having a toothache.
- Sense of Smell: Because of the inflammation of your sinuses, your sense of smell may be off. Your sense of smell carries messages to the brain to let it know what you are about to eat. So, among all of the signs of sinus infection, this dullness of sense of smell can be a bummer, especially if you are looking at some really delicious-looking food.