Sigmoid sinus infection, commonly known as sinusitis is the inflammation of nasal passages and sinuses. When the sinuses are infected, it can cause great irritation and headaches when there is pressure in the cheek area, nose, eyes or one side of the head. It is one of the most common ailments and has affected over 24 million patients in America alone. Those who are suffering from these usually have nasal congestion, bad breath, fever, sore throat and cough.
Acute sinusitis may last for one or two months, sometimes 2 to 3 times a year. There are the usual episodes that can last in ten days or less, and those that recur longer within a year and last for more than three weeks.
Sigmoid Sinus, What Is It Exactly?
It is an area within the human head responsible for allowing blood to drain and flow into the center of the head. This can be the left and the right sigmoid sinuses which allow blood to be drained through it from the transverse sinuses and go back to the internal jugular vein as it passes through the inferior petrosal sinuses.
What Causes Sigmoid Sinus Infection?
Pollutants, allergens and even viral infection can trigger a sinus infection. A viral infection can destroy cells in your upper respiratory tract, affecting the lining thus making it thicker. As this happens, nasal passage becomes smaller, thus obstructed. When this occurs the sinuses get more affected since the air passage is affected by nasal congestion. It can also be caused by second-hand smoke.
The bacteria then thrive in the nasal passages, multiplying and will begin to attack the lining of the sinuses. Bacteria that cause sigmoid sinus infection are as follows:
- Streptococcus pneumoniae
- Moraxella catarrhalis
- Haemophilus influenzae
These bacteria, with the help of anaerobes and Staphylococcus aureus help promote the growth of more bacteria that causes sinus infection. The worst thing about anaerobes is that they can live even without any oxygen, worsening the problem of sinusitis. People who usually get it worst are those with a weaker immune system, and those who suffer from diabetes, leukemia and AIDS. Those who have abnormal mucous secretions are also more likely to suffer.
Common Symptom of any Sinusitis Attack
The usual symptoms that accompany a sigmoid sinus infection are the following:
- Double vision
- Headaches (migraines) early in the morning;
- Inner ear problems
- Loss of smell;
- Nasal congestion with discharge
- Pain in the head, ear or neck;
- Pain in the upper jaw/ cheeks/ teeth;
- Runny nose,
- Severe cough,
- Stuffy nose;
- Swelling of the eyelids; pain between the eyes;
- Tenderness near the nose.
Possible complications of an untreated sigmoid sinus infection
In very rare cases it can lead to brain infection or other complications in the brain. The infection can also invade the blood stream and destroy blood vessels. In extreme cases the patient may suffer from the following:
- Visual problems,
- Mild personality changes,
- Altered consciousness,
Meningitis and abscesses are also possible outcomes of a sigmoid sinus infection that is not treated. Swelling of the forehead or periostitis of the frontal sinus can also trigger dangerous outcomes for the brain.
Treatment for Sigmoid Sinus Infection
Antibiotics will help ease or get rid of the infection; decongestants will also help declog the obstructions in the nasal passage. Pain relievers are also recommended to help ease the pain. If you need some sort of relief there are over-the-counter sprays and decongestants that you can try. If the attack is caused by an allergy, then the allergy must be treated also.
Corticosteroids can also be recommended by your physician should the symptoms of the sinus infection persist. Sometimes this is combined with a dose of antibiotics.
In extreme cases surgery might be the best option for the patient suffering from sinusitis. An otolaryngologist specialist might advise you to undergo nasal surgery, but this is only done as a last resort. Some of the surgical operations include Maxilliary antral washout, functional endoscopic sinus surgery, balloon sinuplasty and Caldwell-Luc radical antrostomy. Your physician will recommend which operation is suitable for your sinus infection. Continuous monitoring of the patients is also strongly advised for those who suffer from recurring episodes of sinus infection.
Home remedies may include the following:
- Applying a dry ginger and water and a paste of cinnamon and water,
- Decoction of mustard seeds,
- Drinking juice of ripe grapes,
- Heat application over the inflamed area,
- Inhalation of peppermint steam,
- Inhaling steam,
- Use of jalapeno pepper,
- Laying down in a darkened room,
- Saline nasal spray
- Drinking a lot of water
Drinking a lot of water helps flush out all the toxins that are causing the infection in the affected area.
Boosting One’s Immune System
There is no doubt that a strong immune system can help fight off sigmoid sinus infection. Ways to strengthen this is by eating the right kinds of foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits. You can also try eating yoghurt since it has probiotic bacteria that help in strengthening the immune system. Getting your zinc levels high will also help in the regeneration of cells in the body. Foods rich in zinc include dairy foods, legumes, cereal, nuts, fish, poultry and red meat.
Some people also try vinegar since it is known to destroy bacteria due to its acidic properties. You can use vinegar by putting a little amount and dab it gently into the affected area.
Although we all try to stay healthy, boost our immune system and live a healthy lifestyle these types of ailments can be unavoidable. Sigmoid sinus infection should not be taken lightly. At the first sign of this type of sinus infection you must seek immediate medical attention. Make sure that you follow all of your doctor’s advice and take all the prescribed medication. Do not act when the ailment has progressed. Act now to avoid regrets later.