Sinus Infection & Bronchitis

 

 A sinus infection, or Sinusitis, is inflammation of the sinuses. It occurs as the result of an infection from a virus, bacteria, or fungus.

sinusinfection

Causes

The sinuses are air-filled spaces in the skull. They are located behind the forehead, nasal bones, cheeks, and eyes. Healthy sinuses contain no bacteria or other germs. Most of the time, mucus is able to drain out and air is able to flow through the sinuses.

When the sinus openings become blocked or too much mucus builds up, bacteria and other germs can grow more easily.

Sinusitis can occur from one of these conditions:

  • Small hairs (cilia) in the sinuses fail to properly to move mucus out. This may be due to some medical conditions.
  • Colds and allergies may cause too much mucus to be made or block the opening of the sinuses.
  • A deviated nasal septum, nasal bone spur, or nasal polyps may block the opening of the sinuses.

The following may increase the risk that an adult or child will develop sinusitis:

Symptoms

The symptoms of acute sinusitis in adults very often follow a cold that does not get better or that gets worse after 5 – 7 days. Symptoms include:

  • Bad breath or loss of smell
  • Cough, often worse at night
  • Fatigue and general feeling of being ill
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Pressure-like pain, pain behind the eyes, toothache, or tenderness of the face
  • Nasal stuffiness and discharge
  • Sore throat and postnasal drip

Symptoms of chronic sinusitis are the same as those of acute sinusitis. However, the symptoms tend to be milder and last longer than 12 weeks.

Symptoms of sinusitis in children include:

  • Cold or respiratory illness that has been getting better and then begins to get worse
  • High fever, along with a darkened nasal discharge, that lasts for at least 3 days
  • Nasal discharge, with or without a cough, that has been present for more than 10 days and is not improving

Treatment

SELF CARE

Try the following steps to reduce congestion in your sinuses:

  • Apply a warm, moist washcloth to your face several times a day.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to thin the mucus.
  • Inhale steam 2 – 4 times per day (for example, while sitting in the bathroom with the shower running).
  • Spray with nasal saline several times per day.
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Use a Neti pot to flush the sinuses.

Be careful with use of over-the-counter spray nasal decongestants. They may help at first, but using them for more than 3 – 5 days can make nasal stuffiness worse.

To help ease sinus pain or pressure:

  • Avoid flying when you are congested.
  • Avoid temperature extremes, sudden changes in temperature, and bending forward with your head down.
  • Try acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

MEDICINE AND OTHER TREATMENTS

Most of the time, antibiotics are NOT needed for acute sinusitis. Most of these infections go away on their own. Even when antibiotics do help, they may only slightly reduce the time it takes for the infection to go away. Antibiotics may be prescribed sooner for:

  • Children with nasal discharge, possibly with a cough, that is not getting better after 2 – 3 weeks
  • Fever higher than 102.2° Fahrenheit (39° Celsius)
  • Headache or pain in the face
  • Severe swelling around the eyes

Acute sinusitis should be treated for 10 – 14 days. Chronic sinusitis should be treated for 3 – 4 weeks. Some people with chronic sinusitis may need special medicines to treat fungal infections.

At some point, your doctor will consider:

  • Other prescription medicines
  • More testing
  • Referral to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) or allergy specialist

Other treatments for sinusitis include:

  • Allergy shots (immunotherapy) to help prevent the disease from returning
  • Avoiding allergy triggers
  • Nasal corticosteroid sprays and antihistamines to decrease swelling, especially if there are nasal polyps or allergies

Surgery to enlarge the sinus opening and drain the sinuses may also be needed. You mayo consider this procedure if:

  • Your symptoms do not go away after 3 months of treatment.
  • You have more than two or three episodes of acute sinusitis each year.

Most fungal sinus infections need surgery. Surgery to repair a deviated septum or nasal polyps may prevent the condition from returning.

Bronchitis

Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes, the airways that carry air to your lungs. It causes a cough that often brings up mucus. It can also cause shortness of breath, wheezing, a low fever, and chest tightness. There are two main types of bronchitis: acute and chronic.

Most cases of acute bronchitis get better within several days. But your cough can last for several weeks after the infection is gone.

The same viruses that cause colds and the flu often cause acute bronchitis. These viruses spread through the air when people cough, or though physical contact (for example, on unwashed hands). Being exposed to tobacco smoke, air pollution, dusts, vapors, and fumes can also cause acute bronchitis. Less often, bacteria can also cause acute bronchitis.

To diagnose acute bronchitis, your health care provider will ask about your symptoms and listen to your breathing. You may also have other tests.

Treatments include rest, fluids, and aspirin (for adults) or acetaminophen to treat fever. A humidifier or steam can also help. You may need inhaled medicine to open your airways if you are wheezing. Antibiotics won’t help if the cause is viral. You may get antibiotics if the cause is bacterial.

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