The throbbing pain in the sinus and the pressure on the cheeks, lips, forehead, and around the eyes are extremely discomforting. If you have ever experienced sinus pain, you know how suffocating and frustrating it can be. Bacteria and allergens are considered major causes of sinus infection, but certain habits also contribute to causing the infection or can even worsen it.
In this blog post, we have explained what is a sinus infection, its symptoms, causes, and ways to get rid of sinus congestion.
What is a Sinus Infection?
Sinus infection or sinusitis is usually not given much consideration, which is why people who affect with sinusitis avoid talking about their condition and keep suffering through it for longer. Sinuses are tiny air-filled passageways into the skull that filter and moisten the air you breathe. Due to continuous air passage from it, sometimes, when the air or mucus traps inside, it leads to causing bacterial stimulation.
Bacterial growth triggers inside the sinus resulting in sinus swelling, further leading to sinusitis. Nasal congestion that further triggers extreme pressure and pain on the face and forehead is the major indicator that the individual has developed a sinus infection.
There are different types of sinus cavities, including Ethmoidal sinuses, Maxillary sinuses, Sphenoidal sinuses, and Frontal sinuses. Each one is associated with a different bone and has a different association with sinus pain.
Symptoms of Sinus Infection
If you feel a stinging sensation inside your nose, it could be the reason for sinus pain. However, this is not always the case, and you should always get yourself checked by the doctor based on certain symptoms.
Some of the common symptoms of sinus infection are:
- Sore throat
- Runny and stuffy nose
- Facial forehead pain
- Persistent cough
- Post-nasal drip
- Frequent nasal congestion
- Nasal swelling
- Eye swelling and redness
- Inability to smell or taste anything
If you suffer from any of these sinus infection signs, seeking medical consultation before the infection worsens is important.
Causes of Sinus Infection
Sinusitis develops when sinuses or air-filled gaps in the skull are filled with a fluid-like substance that stimulates bacterial growth. Sinus infection is not life-threatening however, the virus or bacteria which result in sinusitis can be contagious. Several factors trigger sinusitis, but some individuals can also spread it if they have already caught the infection and come in contact with the unaffected person more often.
Some of the triggering factors of sinus infection are:
- A deviated septum that is developed naturally or due to an injury can lead to sinusitis.
- Another contributing factor is the dry air which is usually caused during the winter weather.
- Individuals who are sensitive to environmental pollutants and seasonal allergies develop nasal congestion that leads to sinus infections.
- Asthma patients are reported to have a high rate of developing sinusitis.
How to Diagnose Sinus Infection?
Sometimes, the nasal blockage or congestion, not the sinus infection, discomforts you. If you feel pain or tenderness around your face and especially closer to the nose, your doctor may analyze the cause through a physical examination. If the symptoms get severe and extend for more than ten days, it is crucial to consult your doctor.
There are certain medical methods to diagnose chronic sinusitis, including:
CT scans or imaging studies are frequently used to examine the nasal area and the sinuses to determine if there are infectious substances. If the individual suspects any signs of sinus infection, a CT scan can help detect the complication.
Doctors usually do a skin allergy test if the person has a sinus infection triggered due to certain allergies. This is a safe and quick method of determining the cause of nasal congestion.
During the procedure, a thin, flexible tube or endoscope is inserted into the nasal cavity with a camera on one end that helps your doctor visually examine the sinuses and nasal passage from the inside.
Treatments to Relieve Sinus Infection
Sinus infection cures on its own, but once it worsens, your doctor may prescribe treatments for sinus relief. Sinus infection interrupts your daily routine and even gets more painful whenever you bend, lift any object, or even breathe. Sometimes, it gets extremely disturbing during the daytime, making lifting your head harder.
Some effective home remedies can help to treat sinusitis, reduce sinus swelling, and regulates mucus secretion.
A sinus irrigation solution and kit help relieve sinus blockage and are easily available at local drug stores. A nasal spray that contains saline solution can be helpful, but if you want to create an irritating solution on your own, you can do it as follows: Take your sinus irrigation kit and fill it an 8-ounce glass with clean and clear lukewarm water. Add in it non-iodized salt and a little bit of baking soda.
If your nasal passage is plugged and has an irregular mucus flow, this nasal irrigation method can help to prevent the condition and relieves sinus infection if used regularly. The water that is used to create nasal saline solution should be boiled or distilled and not contaminated.
Add Spices to Your Food
It is a common perception that consuming spices help ease down the mucus flow through the nasal cavity. Naturally found in red pepper, capsaicin helps relieve nasal inflammation and prevents nasal blockage. The spices like hot mustard and pepper have proven results in treating sinus symptoms by unclogging the sinuses. However, if your stomach responds negatively to these spices, you may stop consuming them.
A dry nose during winter usually forms a thicker crust which leads to blockage of sinus passage and affects drainage. The accumulated thick mucus is another cause of triggering bacterial growth inside the nasal cavity that leads to sinus infection. A natural and effective way to combat the infection is to treat your nasal passage with humidity; a humidifier works tremendously for that. A humidifier promotes moisture in the surrounding air and prevents nasal blockage, which may result from dryness inside the sinuses.
If the sinus infection starts putting pressure and pain around the face, treating the sore areas with warm compresses is best. Put a clean, damp, and warm towel around the cheeks, nose, and eyes, and apply mild pressure. It helps relieve sinus pain and helps you breathe more comfortably.
Various nasal decongestants are available over-the-counter and help treat nasal swelling by reducing blood flow toward the nasal membranes. If the sinus infection results in frequent headaches and puts pressure on the face, the OTC decongestants may help reduce these painful signs. These decongestants are available in the form of tablets, sprays, or liquids and produce satisfactory results after a few days of usage. While considering nasal decongestants to reduce nasal congestion, it is important always to consult your doctor.
Various pain-relieving medications should only be taken after consulting with your healthcare provider to combat sinus infection and prevent its painful symptoms. These OTC medications are not suitable for all age groups, especially children; you should be mindful about treating their sinusitis with these OTC medicines.
Children under six months should only be given acetaminophen, while older than six months can be given ibuprofen. Aspirin is a big NO in terms of treating sinus infections in children as it leads to cause complications in the liver. You should always discuss with your doctor the OTC medicines which are safe for your child and should only follow the medicine plan prescribed by him.
Sinus nasal massage is a highly effective approach to treating sinusitis at home. By inserting the right amount of pressure on the pressure points on the face and forehead, you may get quick relief. Massaging helps in mucus drainage and decongestion in the nasal passage. Various types of sinus massages target different sinus areas and effectively treat the pain and pressure around them.
If you suspect any sinus complication, OTC medication, and home remedies can help you fix it. But chronic sinusitis cannot be controlled or treated easily. If the sinus infections worsen, it gradually expands to the entire face, and your doctor has to opt for a surgical procedure as a last resort.
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that is used to remove nasal tumors and polyps using a specialized device, an endoscope, which is inserted into the nasal passage. The patient is given general anesthesia to detect and treat infection or congestion inside the sinuses. Endoscopic sinus surgery can treat chronic sinusitis and other nasal complications, like a deviated septum, displacing the thin wall (septum) between the nasal passages. A deviated septum can cause difficulty breathing, recurrent nosebleeds, facial pain, headaches, and snoring. Septoplasty is a surgery to correct a deviated septum by removing and straightening the bent cartilage and bone. Endoscopic sinus surgery followed by septoplasty can treat chronic sinusitis and other nasal complications, like a deviated septum, followed by temporary complications such as fatigue, congestion, and minor bleeding, which only stay for two to three weeks post-surgery.
If you experience symptoms like unusual mucus discharge, fever or stiff neck, persistent pain, numbness, tingling sensation, nausea, or vomiting, you shouldn’t attempt to manage your sinus discomfort alone. These symptoms indicate a severe sinus infection requiring antibiotic treatment or medical attention. If you have mild sinus pain, a headache brought on by a cold, or allergies, you can use natural sinus pain treatments, but if your pain is severe and not responding to these methods, you should consult a doctor.