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19th August 2014

Sinusitis

Catching a cold is unfortunately something that affects us all. While the symptoms are usually very easily dealt with by taking painkillers some people find it takes longer than usual for their illness to clear up. The common cold is caused by a virus that infects the nose and throat, causing nasal congestion, a runny nose, headache and fatigue – a cough and mild fever may also be experienced by some people. Congestion occurs if the cold is particularly stubborn causing mucus to build up and clog the sinuses.

 

Where are the sinuses?

The sinuses are small air filled cavities found in the cheeks, forehead and back of the eyes. If they are blocked, they can fill up with mucus or fluid giving you a feeling of congestion around the forehead, eyes cheeks. With chronic sinus blockage, damage can also occur to the voice as the mucus drains on the throat leaving you with a hoarse voice.  Some people also complain of tooth pain or jaw ache as the sinuses sit millimeters above the upper molar teeth. Pressure changes are at times noted bending down when putting on your shoes. Ear and jaw ache has also been reported. If you find that you suffer from these listed symptoms then you are likely suffering from sinusitis. Professional help is needed to resolve this problem (if you have a fever body ache or high temperature your Doctor is your first port of call).

What is treatment required?

Sinus problems can often resolve themselves. If the infection is particularly stubborn or pathogenic the help is required. Your dentist will take x rays to make sure that the teeth are ok and not infected or damaged. Painkillers and decongestants is the first line of treatment. Along with steam, the sinuses can unblock and drain naturally without the need for medications. For persistent sinusitis a week course of antibiotics with nasal spray can cure the problem. In rare cases you may need treatment from a specialist ENT (ear, nose and throat)

When do I need treatment?

Two thirds or cases resolve without any need for intervention. If sinus problems persist they should not be left and always be investigated. Bacterial infections can develop and 1 in 10 000 cases infection can spread to nearby bones and structures.

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