Sinusitis is another word for an infection of the sinuses, which are four in number and are positioned at the back of the skull. These air spaces help to carry the skull’s weight. When the sinuses are congested, then infection can occur. There are a few reasons that may cause inflammation of the sinuses. The most common ones are viral, bacterial, or fungal infections. Mild sinusitis occurs when the pockets get filled with fluid. Chronic sinusitis occurs when the infection of the sinuses is prolonged.
Sinusitis is caused by respiratory infections such as colds, flu, and in some cases, allergies. Sinuses that are healthy give room for mucus and air to disperse throughout the nasal passages. However, they sometimes become inflamed and this interferes with the flow of mucus. This blockage provides an environment that supports bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They live and grow rapidly, leading to a cold or sinus infection in the worst case scenario.
The symptoms of sinus infection are similar to the symptoms of a cold or flu, but they can get pretty severe. Some symptoms can be experienced due to an infecting virus but they fade immediately once the virus goes away. It’s always important to be able to tell the difference between these symptoms so as to be on the safe side when the sinus infection strikes. These are some of the signs and symptoms that you should look out for if you want to detect sinusitis:
- Facial pain and pressure around the cheeks or the forehead. This symptom is usually accompanied by other symptoms.
- Congestion in the nasal passage.
- Yellowish to yellowish green discharge from the nasal passages.
- Cold or flu symptoms that last for 10 days or more.
- Cold or flu symptoms that get worse after 5-7 days, or come back after a few days of improvement, can be a major sign of sinusitis.
- Nonexistent or diminished sense of smell.
- Fever, usually occurring with other symptoms.
- A stubborn cough that always gets worse during the day.
- Pain or pressure in the inner ear.
- Pain in the dental region.
These symptoms, according to research, do not however anticipate prognosis or reaction to antibiotic treatment. You may experience other symptoms that have not necessarily been caused by sinusitis. Some of these symptoms are the effects of the sinusitis symptoms on the body. You may experience muscle aches due to the fever, sneezing from the cold, or allergies and a sore throat from post-nasal drip. Unique cases of sinusitis can show additional symptoms that are grave or life-threatening. Here are some of the symptoms that should be treated as emergencies:
- Red and painful eyes, which are a sign that the sinus infection is around the eyes and it requires immediate attention.
- Swollen and drooping eyelids.
- Increasing severity of the usual symptoms.
- Dilated or fixed pupils.
- Loss of eye movement possibly due to orbital infection.
- Changes in vision.
- Both sides of the face getting affected, probably due to blood clot.
- Severe headaches.
- Mental imbalance and/or a change in personality. This is an indication that the infection is spreading to the brain.
Symptoms in Children
Most sinusitis symptoms show up in both children and adults. However, there are symptoms that only manifest in children. For example, unlike adults, children are prone to getting infected in the ethmoid sinuses, which are found between the eyes. Children are also unlikely to feel headaches or pain in the face, both of which are the leading signs of sinus infection in adults. Here are other symptoms that you will probably find in children:
- Persistent nasal discharge of any kind that does not seem to end. It also involves daytime coughing that lasts for about 10 days, sometimes more.
- Extreme symptoms that can last for up to 4 days consecutively. They include fever of up to 102 degrees F and a greenish nasal discharge.
- Gagging on mucus.
Sinusitis and Vomiting
When a sinus infection causes blockage in the sinus, the mucus stops flowing and fills up the sinus. This stagnant mucus becomes home to bacteria and viruses, and this changes the mucus from alkaline to acidic. Acidic mucus will make you nauseated, and you will probably want to vomit.
Vomiting can be a very distressing symptom of sinusitis. Try to avoid food high in fat content and eat small quantities of light carbohydrates. Munch on gingersnaps or sip on ginger ale. Ginger is good for fighting nausea and will help reduce the urge to vomit.
The Complications of Sinusitis
Generally, children are more delicate and they tend to easily develop complications. A child should be taken to a doctor immediately if there is swelling in the eyelids or cheekbones. Antibiotics are usually enough to cure the infection in most cases if it is diagnosed in time. However, severe cases of sinusitis may require more than antibiotics for the infection to go away.
Chronic sinusitis appears to show symptoms that are different from those of recurrent acute sinusitis. Here are the signs that you should look out for:
- Low fever or no fever at all.
- You might experience any of the usual sinusitis symptoms.
- Symptoms may last for 12 weeks or longer.
- The symptoms appear more generally than acute sinusitis.
- These symptoms can come any time of the year no matter the season.
Other Causes of Sinus infection Symptoms
It is not always easy to notice when a viral infection transforms into a bacterial infection. 40-85% of patients who exhibit the usual signs of a cold also seem to show signs of sinusitis on CT scans or x- rays. However, a cold clears up on its own in a week and does not need any treatment, unlike sinusitis. Only a very small percentage of adults with the flu or a cold end up with a bacterial infection. There are other conditions that almost have the same symptoms as sinusitis:
- Allergies. Some symptoms of allergic rhinitis have a close similarity to the symptoms of sinusitis. This is mainly because these two conditions often happen together. Both sinus infection and allergic rhinitis produce nasal congestion and obstruction. Patients with allergies and no sinusitis may experience symptoms like
- Thin and runny discharge from the nasal passage.
- Frequent sneezing.
- Itching of the eyes, or in the nose or throat. This symptom does not occur in patients with sinus infection.
- Headaches and migraines. Allergies may cause headaches and migraines that are similar to the headaches that are caused by sinus infections. Migraines and headaches may also be brought about by any other health condition apart from the two and it is often difficult to tell the cause.
There are other medical conditions that can also have some similarities with sinusitis with regard to their symptoms:
- Foreign objects in the nasal passage.
- Dental complications.
- Temporal arteritis. These are headaches brought about by inflamed arteries in the head.
- Upper respiratory tract infections.
Therefore, it’s always advisable to visit your doctor for confirmation of what medical condition is affecting you if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above. Jumping to any conclusions might lead you to using the wrong medication causing other complications in the process.