Inflamed Sinuses: What Helps with Sinusitis?

A sinus infection – also called sinusitis – often develops on the basis of a cold. Common symptoms include pain in the forehead, jaw, or around the eyes.

The nose is blocked, often accompanied by headaches and fever: Sinusitis is an inflammation of the mucous membrane in the paranasal sinuses. Millions of people in this country fall ill every year with the acute form, which usually results from a common cold (rhinitis).

Sinusitis: Common cause of cold or flu

Acute sinusitis often develops on the basis of a common cold when the fine, mucous membrane-lined connecting channels between the nasal cavity and the various sinuses become blocked. Normally, tiny cilia constantly transport secretions with inhaled dust grains, dirt particles, or pathogens from the sinuses towards the nose and throat. However, when the mucous membranes become inflamed and swollen, this flow comes to a standstill. Pathogens can then multiply in the sinuses so that the inflammation spreads there, the mucous membranes swell, and produce even more secretions.

Symptoms of sinusitis: runny nose and olfactory dysfunction

Pain in the forehead, jaw, or around the eyes is common with acute sinusitis. They usually get worse when you lean forward, such as getting out of bed. The sense of smell is often limited or completely gone. In addition, the parts of the face above the respective sinuses may be swollen. In some patients, secretion constantly runs from the nose into the throat.

There is a suspicion of acute inflammation of the paranasal sinuses if

  • a cold never stops
  • the nasal mucus is yellow-green
  • the head hurts violently when bending forward rapidly
  • increased temperature up to 40 degrees fever is measured
  • one thinks one has a toothache in the upper jaw
  • odors are perceived less well
  • A lot of mucus comes out of the nose in the morning
  • cough and sore throat get worse
  • feeling like something sticky is running down your throat
  • Signs of complications include a swollen face and red eyes, blurred vision, or neck pain.

Chronic sinusitis

Chronic sinusitis is a different type of disease. It has nothing to do with an infection. The causes here are polyps, allergies, and intolerances or ventilation disorders such as an anatomical narrowing of the nose.

Diagnosis with endoscopy, swab, or allergy test

The doctor asks about symptoms such as pain, fever, general well-being, about coughing, sputum production, and disturbances in smell and taste. An endoscope (a tube-like device with a small lamp) can be used to examine the inside of the nose. In the case of longer-lasting complaints, a smear of the secretion is occasionally taken and examined for pathogens in the laboratory. If the diagnosis remains unclear or there are signs of complications, computed tomography (CT) or an ultrasound may be necessary. If a chronic sinus infection is suspected, an allergy test can be useful.

Therapy: This is how a sinus infection is treated

  • In the case of an acute sinus infection, decongestant nasal sprays can temporarily relieve the symptoms. They can be used up to six times a day. If the symptoms persist, a cortisone spray can be used up to twice a day after the nasal spray. Rinsing the nose with sea salt solution or inhaling it also helps some people.
  • It is extremely important to blow your nose correctly: Pulling it up is not socially acceptable, but it is healthier than blowing it out. Always hold one nostril shut when snorting.
  • The eucalyptus active ingredient cineol, taken in tablet form, can reduce the swelling of the mucous membrane and slow down the recurrence of polyps.
  • A daily half-hour walk or other outdoor exercise is just as important as sufficient sleep and the right amount of rest. This strengthens the whole organism and thus also the immune system.
  • If bacteria are detected as the cause of the smear, antibiotic therapy may be useful under certain circumstances.
  • In the case of chronic sinusitis, nasal drops containing cortisone can bring relief. If the level of suffering increases, an operation can be considered to remove polyps or to widen constrictions in the paranasal sinuses. If an allergy is one of the causes, desensitization or allergen avoidance can be useful.

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