Sinusitis is an uncomfortable condition that affects more than 35 million Americans every year. It’s one of the most common conditions we treat in our urgent care centers, and one of the most common topics patients ask us about.
We’re here with five fast facts every patient should know about sinusitis.
Where Are The Sinuses?
The sinuses are hollow spaces in the facial bones that connect to your nose through small, narrow passages. Sinuses give your voice resonance, and they also lighten the weight of your head. You have four pairs of sinuses: the ethmoid sinuses (located between your eyes), frontal sinuses (located in your forehead just above your eyes), maxillary sinuses (located in your cheekbones), and sphenoid sinuses (located deep behind your eyes.)
What Is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis happens when the mucosal lining of the sinuses becomes inflamed or infected. Sinusitis affects 1 in 8 Americans every year, which means more than 35 million patients are affected by sinusitis each year.
What Causes Sinusitis?
Sinusitis can be caused by allergies, viruses, or bacteria. These conditions cause an increase in mucus production. The excess mucus accumulates in the sinuses and causes sinus pressure, congestion, post-nasal drip, headaches, and fatigue. Severe sinusitis can also cause fevers and thick, yellow, foul-smelling nasal discharge.
How Is Sinusitis Treated?
Believe it or not, only 2% of sinus infections are bacterial, which means only 2% of sinusitis sufferers require an antibiotic. For patients who experience symptoms for less than 10 days, don’t have a fever, significant sinus pain, or purulent (pus-containing) discharge, the typical treatment for sinusitis includes oral decongestants, nasal steroids sprays, over-the-counter pain medicine, and nasal saline irrigation.
Patients with severe or chronic sinusitis may benefit from oral steroids. And patients who suffer from allergic sinusitis often benefit from adding an antihistamine to their daily regimen.
How Can Sinusitis Be Prevented?
For starters, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands frequently to avoid contracting the viruses that cause the flu and the common cold – and often lead to sinus infections.
In addition, ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) specialists recommend that patients use nasal saline sprays frequently since the nasal cilia (the fine hairs that help fend off infection) function better in a moist environment.
Also, taking an oral decongestant at the beginning of cold symptoms can help clear out the mucus before it can become infected.
And, as we mentioned above, allergy sufferers can often avoid sinusitis by taking an antihistamine.
We're Here to Help
At GoHealth Urgent Care, we’re here seven days a week to treat sinus infections -- as well as lots of other non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries.