One of the leading reasons why individuals visit their doctors is sinus pain. According to research, approximately 37 million American citizens get symptoms for sinusitis like thick nasal discharge, sinus pain, and nasal congestion. That figure is on the rise due to an increase in pollutants and resistance to antibiotics.
Causes of sinus congestion and pain
Allergies are one of the leading causes of sinus troubles. Certain individuals have allergies due to seasonal factors and are therefore, for example, troubled mostly during fall and spring when pollen count is high. Others suffer from all-year-round allergies that repeatedly cause them congestion and pain in their sinuses.
Flu and the common cold are also among the most common causes of sinusitis. A cold that is due to a virus can develop into sinusitis. The virus that causes the cold invades your sinuses membranes, which leads to swelling, which in turn results in the constriction of the drainage passages in the nose and sinuses. To counter this, you generate extra mucus which gets clogged up in the engorged sinuses. Bacteria tend to develop where there is an accumulation of mucus, and thus at times result in persistent sinusitis.
The four pairs of sinuses that surround the nose are the frontal, ethmoidal, sphenoidal, and maxillary sinuses.
The following can also cause sinus congestion, pressure, and pain:
- Pollutants: Smoke from cigarette, air pollution, and chemical irritants like household cleaners and pesticide sprays can cause inflammation in the sinuses.
- Polyps: These are growths that resemble sacs found in the inflamed sinuses membranes
- Anatomical problems: Structural issues like a nasal bone spur or a deviated septum can keep off mucus from coming out of the sinuses.
- Fungi: This is a rising issue, particularly in individuals with weak immune systems from diseases like leukemia, AIDS, and diabetes. Just like bacteria, fungi can result in sinusitis, although they do not respond to antibiotics. Aspergillus is the main fungus that causes sinusitis.
- Diving or swimming: Due to changes in pressure in the sinuses and nose, these activities can make you prone to sinusitis.
Distinction between sinusitis and a cold
The main difference between sinusitis and a cold is the duration they last. The symptoms of sinusitis last for more than ten days, while a cold usually clears up in five to seven days. Sinusitis can lead to facial pressure and pain, headaches, bad breath, upper teeth pain, and nasal discharge that is yellow to green in color. In colds, the discharge is mostly cloudy white or clear.
Preventive measures for sinus congestion and pain
Is it possible to prevent sinus congestion and pain? Maybe not totally, although you can do the following to avoid allergies and infections:
- Frequently wash your hands -This is particularly crucial during the cold season, since viruses can live for long on the surfaces of objects that you touch.
- Receive the annual flu vaccine - According to research, you can prevent sinusitis when you prevent the flu.
- Exercise regularly and consume a diet that is balanced - You will have a strong immune system when you maintain good health through a healthy diet.
- Do not smoke - Cigarette smoke irritates sinuses.
- Use a humidifier -Sinus pain can result from dryness. Prepare a hot shower and breathe in the steam, or use a towel to cover your head. Ensure your humidifying machine is cleaned every day following the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure that the humidifier does not itself cause sinusitis.
- Avoid overusing antibiotics - Antibiotics are only effective for infections that are bacterial; they are not effective in viral infections. You can develop a resistance to antibiotics if you use them a lot.
- Use a saline nasal solution - You can opt to make your own saline solution by combining 8 ounces of warm water with a quarter tablespoon of salt, or you can purchase it ready-made at the pharmacy. It is advisable to use distilled water and non-iodized salt. If you decide to purchase saline drops or a saline spray, make sure that it is decongestant-free.
- Use a neti pot - This technique, which originates from India’s traditional Ayurveda yoga, has recently begun to be used in the west, although it has been used for many years in the east. A neti pot enables a saline solution to be injected into the nasal pathways, coursing water through them to loosen mucus. You can purchase them at nutrition centers, pharmacies, and health food shops.
- Ensure your windows remain closed - If you suffer from allergies, it is not advisable to go outdoors or keep your room's windows open, particularly between 10 a.m. and 5 a.m., since that’s when pollen count is high.
- Clean to rid your home and furniture of dust mites - Regularly wipe and vacuum every surface, minimize clutter that can catch dust, and cover your mattresses and pillows with dust covers.
- Keep away from fume-emitting materials - Materials that generate fumes can worsen your sinusitis. Keep away hairsprays, cleaning products, and other fume-emitting materials.
- Do not swim for long - Do not swim for long periods in swimming pools that contain chlorine since this can cause irritation of the sinuses and nose membranes.
- Avoid close contact with sick people - As much as possible, minimize contact with sick individuals. Frequently wash your hands using water and soap, particularly before a meal, after coming into contact with someone who is ill.
- Irrigate your nose - Ensure your nose stays moist by regularly using saline washes or sprays.
- Put warm compresses on the face -Do this 3 times in a day, each for a duration of 5 minutes. Soak a small towel in warm water and put it on your face close to the eyes. This will improve circulation in the sinuses, which in turn speeds up cilia movement.
- Drink lots of fluids - Take a minimum of ten glasses of fruit juice or water to loosen mucus and lubricate your throat. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol since they cause dehydration.
- Use an aromatherapy steam bath - Add a few drops of menthol or eucalyptus aromatherapy oil into a basin of hot water and inhale the steam.
- Reserve your energy - You require good rest of a minimum of eight hours in one day. Take a nap or stay in bed. For easier breathing, sleep with your side or use a pillow to prop yourself up.
- Practice allergy care - If you suffer from allergies, keep away from things that trigger your allergies and try as best as you can to manage your allergies.
- Be on the alert for pressure changes - In instances of high changes in temperature or air pressure, you may experience pain in the nasal section of your face or in your head. You may also want to avoid travelling by airplanes.
- Look for over-the-counter medicines - If you have a cold, you can use pain relievers and decongestants to treat sinus pain and pressure, or ease chest congestion using an expectorant.
Although sinus pain can be severe in individuals suffering from allergies or weak immune systems, maintaining proper hygiene and a healthy lifestyle can ensure that you do not find the congestion and pain of sinuses very troublesome. Visit your doctor if your cold symptoms worsen after you had briefly improved, if the facial pressure and pain worsens, or if you have a thick discharge coming out of your nose.
If treated early and correctly, sinusitis normally clears up. The outlook for acute sinusitis that is bacterial is good, outside of individuals who experience complications. Individuals whose sinusitis is due to structural issues or allergies may get chronic sinusitis or experience frequent acute sinusitis attacks.