Human kind has four paired hollowed air-filled spaces in the facial zone of the skull called sinus cavities or paranasal sinuses. These sinuses function to humidify, moisten and filter air that enters through the nose for respiratory purposes. These air filled cavities are also said to give resonance to the voice as well as lightening the weight of the skull.
Sinusitis is basically any harm done to these sinus cavities often due to viral, bacterial or fungal substances that engorge or inflame the sinus membrane. When excess mucus collects in these sinuses due to a bacteria or virus infection, the sinus linings becomes swollen causing intense pain in the facial part of the skull.
There is a free flow of air and mucus between each sinus cavity and the nasal passage via a small tube called ostia. Anything that causes a swelling in the nose may affect the functioning of the ostia. When the ostia become affected or blocked due to irritation, mucus collects within the sinus cavity. Dusty and dry air may find its way easy into the lungs without any filtering.
Air trapped within an obstructed sinus, along with pus or other secretions may cause pressure on the sinus wall. The result is intense pain. Similarly, when air is prevented from entering the paranasal sinus via the swollen membrane, a vacuum can be created that also causes pain.
|What can causes Sinusitis?
As already mentioned, virus, bacteria and fungus are the main irritants of the sinuses. Other irritants include the following:
- Allergens- these are substances that provoke an allergic response such as pollen , molds or dust mites
- A cold
- Temperature changes
- The change in barometric pressure
When our immune system is weakened, we also become prone to sinusitis, ear infection and other respiratory disorders.
|What are the symptoms of Sinusitis?
At times, symptoms of sinusitis can be mistaken with those of a cold because they're somehow similar. In general, basic sign and symptoms of sinusitis include a combination of the following :
- Green or yellowish nasal discharge
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Bad breath
- Pressure or a headache in the eyes, nose, or cheek area
|Does swimming make Sinus Infection worse?
Swimming in chlorinated water is hazardous not only to your sinuses, but it can also affect your ears. When chlorinated water comes in contact with the infected paranasal sinuses the swelling may become worse and intensely painful.
Several other factors that may worsen this condition:
- Weather changes
- Inhaled irritants such as cigarette smoke
- Over-consumption of dairy products
- Viral infection
- Exposure to environmental allergens such as mold or pollen
An infection may occur to one, more or all of the sinuses at the same time. The ideal thing is to identify which sinus is affected. There are four types of sinuses and symptoms may vary according to which sinus is inflamed:
When your ethmoid sinuses become inflamed, this is called ethmoiditis. Ethmoid sinuses are located between the eyes behind the bridge of the nose. We all have ethmoid sinuses from birth, and they grow as we grow.
These are located on either sides of the nose, when they become inflamed, you have antritis. Maxillary sinuses are present at birth and mature as we grow. They are also called cheekbone sinuses because they are located right in the cheekbones.
Sphenoid sinuses are sinuses we develop during adolescence. They are found deeper in the skull just behind the eyes. When these sinuses become inflamed, you have sphenoiditis.
|Frontal (forehead) Sinuses
These are sinuses located above the eyes in the region of the forehead and only develop when you are about seven years old. When frontal cavities become inflamed, you have frontal sinusitis.
Due to the duration in the periods and frequency of attacks, sinusitis can further be classified as acute, chronic and recurrent. Click here to learn how you can prevent sinusitis.
Other topics that may be of interest on nasal disorders: