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What Is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is the medical term for inflammation (irritation and swelling) of the sinuses. It's usually caused by infection.

Our sinuses are the moist air spaces within the bones of the face around the nose. The frontal sinuses are located in the area near the eyebrows; the maxillary sinuses are located inside the cheekbones; the ethmoid sinuses are between the eyes; and the sphenoid sinuses sit behind the ethmoid sinuses.

When we're healthy, our sinuses are filled with air, making our facial bones less dense and much lighter in weight. Sinuses also play a role in how our voices sound.

Infection with viruses or bacteria — or a combination of both — can cause sinusitis. Generally, someone with a cold also has inflammation of the sinuses. This is viral sinusitis. Allergies also can lead a person to develop sinusitis.

When the nasal congestion (stuffiness) associated with the common cold or allergies doesn't allow the sinuses to drain properly, bacteria can become trapped inside the sinuses, leading to bacterial sinusitis.

Bacterial sinusitis tends to make someone feel sicker than viral sinusitis. A person with bacterial sinusitis usually will have more facial pain and swelling than someone with viral sinusitis, and might also develop a fever.

Signs and Symptoms of Sinusitis

Some of the signs that someone may have bacterial sinusitis are:

  • a stuffy or runny nose with a daytime cough that lasts for 10 to 14 days or longer without improvement
  • mucus discharge from the nose (this can occur with both viral and bacterial sinusitis but continuous thick discharge is more likely to be from bacterial sinusitis)
  • persistent dull pain or swelling around the eyes
  • tenderness or pain in or around the cheekbones
  • a feeling of pressure in your head
  • a headache when you wake up in the morning or when bending over
  • bad breath, even after brushing your teeth
  • pain in the upper teeth
  • a fever greater than 102° Fahrenheit (39° Celsius)

Some people also have dry coughs and find it hard to sleep. Others have upset stomachs or feel nauseous.

Although many of these symptoms are similar to those you can get from viral sinusitis or allergic rhinitis (inflammation of the nose and sinuses due to allergy), it's a good idea to see your doctor just in case. Viral sinusitis and allergic rhinitis are more common, but bacterial sinusitis often needs to be treated with antibiotics, and you can only get these with a doctor's prescription.


Links to asthma :
- WikiPedia
- Total Health

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