Okay, so we’ve already discussed colds and the flu in the last two blog posts. But now it’s time to turn our attention to another related infection type: sinus infections (termed medically as sinusitis).
SINUS INFECTION: SYMPTOMS
Let’s say you have a runny nose and you keep sneezing and coughing. You could put it down to a common cold and you just might be right. However, if your condition seems to last longer than the general term of colds (that is, 10 – 14 days), you might actually be suffering from a sinus infection. Some other sinusitis symptoms are high fever, puffy eyes and bad breath. Before we get into treatment for the infection, let’s get a little background knowledge on the subject.
WHAT ARE SINUSES?
A sinus is not an infection in itself though people colloquially refer to the associated infection- sinusitis- as ‘sinus’ too. Actually, sinuses are the natural multiple ‘air pockets’ found in head and face bones. While that may sound a tiny bit alarming, it just means they are empty ‘airy’ spaces. We all have a total of eight sinuses (which start developing even before we’re born!) and their purpose mostly seems to be keeping the weight of our skull lower than it would be if it were all bone, and adding tone/depth to our voice. Much like the nose, these sinuses are lined with a thin ‘mucous membrane’ tissue which helps trap dust and germs in the form of mucus/snot. The tiny hair on the membrane’s surface, called cilia, then help clear the mucus by transferring it to our swallowing tract through a narrow nasal opening.
If you have a cold or allergy, the sinuses get irritated and consequently start producing excess amounts of mucus. The cold virus can also damage the ‘cilia’ which stops the tiny hair from clearing away the mucus. This excess mucus production or un-cleared built-up can also block the nasal opening that previously drained the mucus. When mucus starts clogging the sinuses, it becomes a good launching pad for bacteria, fungi and viruses to grow. This sinusitis can be either acute or chronic based on how severe and/or persisting it is.
A doctor can diagnose sinusitis by careful examination of the ear, nose and throat, and by tapping the sinuses externally. If you have a cold that seems to be persisting longer than expected and you want to get checked for sinusitis, just walk into your closest MedHelp clinic any day and our staff will be happy to help you through the entire process. For a bacterial infection, your doctor might prescribe you an antibiotic which helps in killing bacteria. Antibiotics will not be effective against viral infections though. The doctor might suggest a CT scan to see exactly what’s going on and how to treat it in the best possible way. During your visit to the MedHelp clinic in Atlanta, you can also ask your doctor to prescribe you a decongestant or nasal spray that can help you feel better while you recover.