Sinusitis: Symptoms and Treatment

By Dr. (Hakim) Aslam Javed

Sinuses are basically hollow cavities in our skull which are full of air and their linings are covered with thin layers of pink tissues or mucosa. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the tissue lining of the sinuses.

Causes of Sinusitis:
Viral and bacterial infection and allergies are the main causes of sinusitis. Initially, the disease starts with an inflammation which providesa conducive atmosphere for germ growth and hence leads towards bacterial infection.

Symptoms:
The symptoms of sinusitis includes: dull pressure and pain in the cheek, between eyes, teeth, nose and forehead, congestion in the nostrils and discharge of yellowish or greenish mucus (if the discharge drips into the throat, it can also cause throat inflammation), inflammation in the neck and foul breathing, mild fever and general weakness, frequent congestion in the nose causing difficulty in breathing, heaviness in the eyes, headache which aggravates in the morningand decreases as the day advances, early morning fatigue,sore throat, hoarse voice, difficulty in judging taste and smell, smelly and coloured sputum, decreased interest in daily activities and frequent coughing and cold. The x-ray report of the skull can also reveal inflammation of the skull cavities (sinuses).

Chronic Sinusitis:
Sinusitis, which stays for more than three months, is known as chronic sinusitis. The causes of chronic sinusitis may include allergic rhinitis and bacterial infection. Nasal polyps may obstruct effortless breathing. The chronic sinusitis can also cause symptoms such as general weakness and dental pain. To address chronic sinusitis and to open the blocked nasal passages, the patient may use nasal decongestant spray, but prolonged use of these sprays may worsen the symptoms and produce several side effects.

Generally, inflammation in sinus occurs due to viral infection resulting into cold which usually goes away after a week or so. This is to be noted that anti-bacterial medication is ineffective in viral infection cases. Instead,light medications can be taken to address mild fever and body pain. But if sinusitis is due to bacterial presence and the sputum is darkish and the condition stays for more than a week and you also have pain in your facial area, antibiotic medicines can be given. Washing the nostrils with the warm neem and salty water can also be beneficial. Sinusitis usually worsens with the onset of cold air and the patient takes several types of medicines but without any benefit.

The nature has put a few hollow cavities in our skull to keep our head light; these cavities are known as sinuses. Any infection in these sinuses can cause sinusitis. These hollow spaces are filled with air so that we may not feel the load of our head. Thin layers of tiny hairs cover the surface of these hollow cavities to push mucus out of the sinuses. Frequent bouts of cold, allergies and injury may cause inflammation in the sinuses. The inflammation stops these tiny hairs to expel the mucus. The infection starts in mucus, causing numerous symptoms such as blocked nostrils, headache and pain in the facial area including the neck.The discharge from the sinuses also drains down the back of the throat which causes irritation and ache in throat area and the patient also starts coughing and his voice becomes hoarse.

Why and how chronic sinusitis starts?
Certain symptoms, if ignored for long, can cause chronic sinusitis. These symptoms are allergic reactions, cold, nasal polyps, infection and inflammation in the nose. The inflammation in the sinuses decreases the air level in the hollow cavities (sinuses). Other relative causes include pollution, breathing polluted and dusty air, swimming or bathing in polluted water and not taking balanced food.

Types of chronic sinusitis:
Allergies caused chronic sinusitis; viral infection caused chronic sinusitis, and bacterial infection caused chronic sinusitis.

Each type of sinusitis demands different type of treatment; hence it is advised that the patient should consult a doctor.

Treatment:
Treatment of sinusitis demands patience and the right care. The main purpose of the treatment is to allow easy flow of the wind towards the tiny hairs in the tissue lining of the cavities (sinuses), and this requires nostrils to remain obstruction-free. Antibiotic treatment is necessary to address chronic sinusitis but you need to consult a doctor and avoid over-the-counter drugs or self-medication. For precautions, you should avoid polluted and dusty air, smoking and drinking. You should also keep your teeth healthy and consult a dentist if you have any dental issue. Drinking 8-10 glasses of warm neem water every day and soup mixed with ginger and black pepper can also be beneficial.

Steam bath or inhaling steam before going to bed, keeping the teeth clean and gargling with warm salty water, inhaling steam of warm water (boiled with cabbage leaves) are some of the ways which can help the sinusitis patients. Inhaling steam treats inflammation in the nostrils and sinuses and the patient feels relaxation. Chronic sinusitis attacks its patients every winter and does not leave them for decades, so it is very important to follow precautions and adhere to guidelines suggested by experts. It is not always necessary to take antibiotics to treat sinusitis. Antibiotic medicines can be given to the patient for only ten days. So if you are suffering from chronic sinusitis, you need to show patience and avoid self-medication.

Eat walnuts:
Normally people in our country reject food as ‘cold’ or ‘hot’. If someone is given or asked to eat dry fruits, he at once says that he does not eat hot food. This is even truer when we talk about walnuts as it is generally dubbed as one of the hottest food, and some people also say it can cause neck ulcer which is a myth. The truth is that eating walnuts can decrease fat level in the blood and keep your heart healthy. Today, people are very conscious about fat level in their blood as the same may lead to cardiovascular complications. There are two types of cholesterol - good and bad. The presence of the right amount of HDL or good cholesterol helps to prevent cardiovascular issues.

Today, several types of medicines are available which are claimed to bring down bad cholesterol, but the recent researches reveal that these medications are quite ineffective. The experts have also claimed that increased level of cholesterol in the blood does not necessarily cause heart attack, though it is advisable to try to maintain beneficial level of HDL cholesterol to avoid any cardiovascular complication. Fish increases good cholesterol level as its fat and flesh contain adequate amount of omega-3 which helps to bring up HDL level in the blood.

According to a latest research published in a reputed journal, it is claimed that those who eat 20 gram walnuts daily for eight weeks are safe from cardiovascular diseases. The Journal of Clinical Nutrition also claims that eating 20 gram walnuts daily can increase HDL (good) cholesterol level in the blood. Several other reports support these facts about walnuts. Although it is not clear whether walnut is better than other dry fruits, one thing is all too clear that walnuts contain linolenic acid (ALA) which has same properties found in the fat of fish which we know as omega-3, though both are different. It has been seen that people who consume linolenic acid have thin or fatless blood in their veins.People who take omega-3 and linolenic rich food are usually safe from cardiovascular diseases and their brain remains healthy. Scientists also believe that walnut is a delicious dry fruit which can help us to keep away from cardiovascular diseases. So, enjoy walnuts daily and stay healthy.




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