Sinusitis is an infection that affects a person’s nasal and sinus passages. The infection makes these passages inflamed, thus making a person uncomfortable. Many people around the globe are affected by sinusitis annually and may end up having to see a leading ent specialist in Singapore if symptoms occur when they’re in Asia.
In a human’s skull, there is an interconnected system of cavities that are hollow. There are large sinus cavities that are around one inch. There are also other smaller sinus cavities. There are four types of sinuses, i.e., maxillary sinuses, frontal sinuses, sphenoid sinuses, and ethmoid sinuses. These different sinuses are placed at different parts of a person’s skull. For example, maxillary sinuses are held by the cheekbones; frontal sinuses are at the low centre of the forehead; sphenoid sinuses are in the bones behind the nose, and ethmoid sinuses are between the eyes.
One primary function of sinuses is to create mucus. Mucus is an aqueous slippery substance that works to trap harmful particles. For example, smoke, bacteria, and dust. Moreover, mucus contains enzymes and antibodies that kill bacteria, thus preventing infections. When there is a lot of allergens and toxic bacteria, more mucus is produced that might block the vents of the sinuses.
When a person has a cold or allergy, it is common for the sinuses to produce excess mucus. However, excess mucus is not good. This is because harmful germs and bacteria can buildup in the sinus cavities. This might cause a severe viral or bacterial sinus infection. The majority of sinus infections are caused by viruses. They are eradicated in the span of 1 or 2 weeks. However, if the symptoms persist past two weeks, then it might be a bacterial infection. Hence, it is essential to consult an ENT specialist in Singapore immediately.
Types of Sinus Infections
Acute Sinusitis: It is the most common infection, and it can persist up to 3 months. (visit an ENT doctor)
Chronic sinusitis: This is a more severe infection that might necessitate surgery of the sinus. It can persist for more than three months, or the symptoms can keep returning after 12 weeks.
Symptoms Caused By Sinusitis
There are various factors that affect the symptoms of sinusitis, i.e., length of infection and severity of the infection. Typically, if a person experiences two or more of these symptoms, plus a thick nasal discharge that is either yellow or green, then the probability of having sinusitis is quite high.
- blocked nose
- nasal discharge
- nasal congestion
- facial pressure and/or pain
- prolonged cough
- weak sense of smell
If the symptoms persist for more than 12 weeks, then it might be a case of chronic sinusitis.
How can the Sinusitis be Diagnosed?
A doctor will perform a gentle press over the sinuses (on the face) to scrutinize if there is an infection. Moreover, the doctor will look into the nose with a special light that identifies polyps, inflammation, or any other abnormalities.
A nasal endoscopy (nose scope) procedure can be used to get more accurate results. This procedure includes the insertion of an endoscope into the nose. The endoscope will then be guided to the sinus and nasal passages to investigate the condition.
Another diagnosis process is to do an MRI or a non-invasive CT scan. This will help to investigate if there are inflammation or abnormality in the nose and sinuses.
Risk Factors that are associated with Sinusitis
The risk factors of sinusitis include:
- Deviated nasal septum
- Dental infections
- Nasal polyps
- Autoimmune diseases or Immune system disorder
- Frequent exposure to toxic pollutants like sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, cigarette smoke, and carbon monoxide
- Hay fever or other allergic conditions
Treatment of Sinusitis
The treatment of sinusitis is dependent on the time the symptoms last. Typically, early bacterial or acute viral sinusitis can be treated without antibiotics. If a person finds himself/herself in these scenarios, it is essential to visit an ENT specialist when you notice the following symptoms:
- Swelling and pain around the eyes
- Severe headache that is not treated with over the counter prescriptions
- Symptoms worsen on day 5 of illness or symptoms persist for more than ten days
- Symptoms persist even after taking medication prescribed by a general practitioner
Sinus rinse: The inflamed and infected mucus in the nose and sinuses is flushed out by sea-salt solutions. For effective results, the rinse should be performed twice daily.
Antibiotics: These are prescribed in special scenarios, and the typical dose lasts between 7 and 21 days. Antibiotics are used to remove the bacteria, causing the infection.
Oral corticosteroids: These are only used to treat severe cases of sinusitis. These medications are prescribed for nasal polyps and work by relieving the inflammation.
Nasal corticosteroids: They are used in the prevention and treatment of inflammation. They are prescribed by ENT specialists, and they can be mixed with a saline solution to rinse the nasal passages.
Surgery: If the medical treatments are not producing positive results, then an endoscopic sinus surgery should be performed.
What To Expect When You Visit The ENT Specialist
A visit to an otolaryngologist or ENT specialist is quite different. This is because the specialist will utilize various medical instruments to investigate the sinuses. Firstly, the patient’s medical history is carefully read. This will reveal the respective symptoms and complaints of the patient. Then, the sinuses are comprehensively examined. Depending on the condition, a nasendoscopy and local anaesthesia may also be required. Other fundamental procedures include imaging (MRIs, CT scans, X-rays), laboratory tests, and blood tests. These are only performed when it is deemed necessary.