The sinuses are hollow spaces or airways located in the skull and facial bones, with openings into the nose. Sinuses come in four pairs, the first of which is found around the cheekbone near to the nose, and the second at the start of the eyebrow, between the eyes socket. The third pair is located on the forehead, and the fourth at the center of the skull. Similar to our nostrils, these airways are empty cavities, with sides that are coated with a thin mucus membrane.
The small air holes throughout the sinus walls usually provide good interior ventilation, except for when you have a cold, the flu or allergy, when everything suddenly becomes clogged up. The reason for this blockage is that the air holes (your natural ventilation system) become blocked, resulting in an inflamed membrane. This, in turn, causes a blockage of the mucus inside the nostrils. When this happens it is an ideal environment for germ growth and infection is created, and sinus infection, otherwise known as sinusitis, can occur. An infected dental root canal can also cause sinus infection.
Symptoms of a sinus infection are generally similar to those of the flu or allergy, but with a noticeable difference. In addition to the usual runny or stuffed nose, people with sinus infection have headaches or even pain around the infected sinus area. Patients suffering from sinusitis and taking medication for a common cold may not find relief from (say) a stuffed nose. Other symptoms common amongst those with sinusitis are thick mucus, yellow or green sputum and an unstoppable runny nose. In some severe cases, patients may even be aware of a strong smell from the nostrils, while some may have a fever or an unstoppable cough with sputum. Ear infection is common amongst child sufferers.
Sinus pain can only get worse, especially in the morning upon waking. This is because during sleep, mucus builds up in the sinuses and blood accumulates in the sinus blood vessels, preventing a free flow of air along the sinus airways.
Sinus infections can be detected in three ways:
- Through an ENT (ear, nose, throat) diagnosis, which can detect mucopus in the infected area
- By a nose inspection scope, which can locate the infected area and the cause of blockage
- By x-ray
After examination and diagnosis, the patient must be treated immediately. Treatment methods, which vary according to the symptoms and period of illness, consist of: medicines, a small incision to cleanse the infected area and, as the last resort, operation.
With accurate and proper medical care, patients with sinus infections in the early stage can be cured within two to three weeks. Those who have been suffering from the condition for longer periods however (and who have developed further sinus-related symptoms) may require constant medical care and need to adhere strictly to the doctor’s instructions. A lack of proper medical care may result in severe side effects for sufferers of sinus. Despite the continuance of persistent allergy symptoms, patients will be able to enjoy a good quality of life.
Sinus sufferers should avoid exposure to dust and smoke, which is why Bangkok Pattaya Hospital commits to creating a dust-free environment inside the hospital. Those suffering from sinus infection are strongly advised to get enough rest and exercise regularly.