At San Diego Ear, Nose & Throat Specialists, we specialize in addressing the underlying causes of sinus disease. Your sinuses are air-filled chambers in the center of the face, around the eyes and nose which have a mucous-secreting lining. There are 4 pairs of sinuses that are connected to the nasal cavity. The maxillary sinuses are below the eyes at the level of the cheeks. The frontal sinuses above the eyes at the level of the forehead. The ethmoid sinuses located between the eyes, and the Sphenoid located deep in the head close to the brain and pituitary gland
Sinusitis is a condition in which the lining of your sinuses becomes inflamed. This can be caused by viruses, allergies, air pollution, bacterial infections, and structural abnormalities within the nose. The opening of the sinus becomes blocked, causing mucus to back up and become trapped in the sinuses. This becomes an ideal place for bacterial growth. Most cases of sinusitis are caused by a viral infection which usually resolves in a week. A bacterial infection may be present if symptoms last more than 10 days or if symptoms progressively become worse.
Common Symptoms of sinusitis include thick nasal discharge, nasal congestion, facial pain or pressure, headaches, postnasal drip, and poor sense of smell. Sinusitis is classified depending on how long symptoms last. They are classified as acute, subacute, chronic, or recurrent. Acute sinusitis is when you have symptoms for less than 4 weeks with the complete resolution of symptoms. Subacute is when symptoms last between 4 and 12 weeks and the symptoms resolve completely. Chronic sinusitis is having symptoms lasting 12 weeks or longer. Recurrent acute sinusitis is often defined as three or more episodes per year, with each episode lasting less than 2 weeks.
Diagnosis and Treatment
When you begin your consultation with your ENT physician, they will begin with a thorough review of your medical history. It is of great importance for your physician to understand what your sinus-related symptoms are, their duration, association with seasons or other environmental exposures (allergies, smoking, etc), as well as the full range of treatments that you have tried, for how long you have tried them, and their efficacy.
A thorough physical exam will be performed including a nasal endoscope (a small lighted/optical instrument) that will be used to look inside the nose. This will help determine if you have any underlying conditions, such as a deviated septum, swollen or allergic appearing nose, and sinus lining, enlarged adenoids or turbinates, masses or polyps which can be contributing to your symptoms. Once completed, a detailed treatment plan will be compiled – involving medications and further testing (allergy testing, CT images, etc).
The first step in treating sinusitis is to unblock the nasal passages. This ensures that the sinuses are draining properly and helps flush out bacteria. Here are a few common treatment options for sinusitis:
Nasal irrigation. To irrigate your sinuses, you rinse your nose with warm salt water using a neilmed rinse bottle 2-3 times a day. Nasal steroids. Steroid nasal sprays help decrease swelling in the sinuses.