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Sinusitis

What are sinuses?

Sinuses are air-filled spaces in the skull which is lines by membranes. These membranes will produce a thin secretion to trap dirt particles and keep the nasal passages moist.

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is a condition where infection or inflammation of the membranes that line the sinuses occurs. Sinusitis is common and happens even in young children. It is divided into 2 types:

  • Acute sinusitis.
  • Chronic sinusitis.

What agents cause sinusitis?

Infections are due to:

  • Virus.
  • Bacteria.
  • Fungus.

Other agents of inflammation are:

  • Allergy.
  • Chemical irritants.
  • Nasal polyp.

How does sinusitis present?

Signs and symptoms are varied and include :

  • Blocked nose.
  • Cough.
  • Head or face ache.
  • Soreness in the face.
  • Persistent cold with yellow or green runny nose.
  • A constant foul smell in the nose.
  • Mild to high grade fever.
  • Weakness.
  • Tiredness.
  • Cough which is worse at night with coloured mucous.

How can sinusitis become dangerous?

Acute sinusitis may lead to:

  • Chronic sinusitis.
  • Chronic headache.
  • Abscess (pus formation and destruction).
  • Maxillary sinus abscess.
  • Frontal sinus abscess.
  • Ethmoidal sinus abscess.
  • Brain abscess.
  • Eye – Subperiosteal abscess.

How can sinusitis be treated?

Consult your doctor. He may recommend or prescribe:

  • Rest.
  • Breathing-in steam from a bowl of hot water (where menthol may be added).
  • Pain killer to reduce pain (paracetamol or ibuprofen).
  • Decongestants to reduce the swelling in the nose and allow the sinuses to drain.
  • Antibiotics if bacteria is the likely cause.

If you have chronic sinusitis, besides above treatment, other measures may be necessary. They are:

  • Steroid nasal spray (to help reduce swelling and inflammation).
  • Long term use of antihistamine.
  • Endoscopic nasal surgery to wash and widen the drainage hole.

How does one prevent sinusitis?

The following measures may be helpful:

  • Remove pets if there is associated allergy to animal dander, hair etc.
  • Keep the air humid at home.
  • Use an air-filtering vacuum cleaner.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Use a decongestant spray or tablets before diving or swimming.
Last reviewed : 26 April 2012
Content Writer : Dr. Norrashidah Hj. Abd Wahab
  : Dr. Nor Mahani Harun
Reviewer : Dr. Norzila bt. Mohamed Zainudin