Is your nose frequently congested? Do you have post-nasal drip? Are you constantly feeling sinus pain or pressure? All of these symptoms may be indicators of a sinus problem. Below, I explain what the sinuses are, the different types of sinus problems that can occur, and what you can do to find relief.
The sinuses are separated into four different categories, and they are as follows:
• Frontal Sinuses
• Sphenoid Sinuses
• Ethmoid Sinuses
• Maxillary Sinus
The frontal sinuses are located in the low-centre are of your forehead, the ethmoid sinuses are located between your eyes, the sphenoid sinuses are located in the bones just behind your nose/between the eyes, and your maxillary sinuses (which are the largest) are located in your cheekbones. The sinuses are lined with a soft, pink tissue known as mucosa; while the inside of our nose has ridges known as turbinates, which help to humidify and filter the air we breathe in through our noses. Dividing the nose is a thin wall known as the septum.
There are many types of sinus problems that one can develop, including:
• Hay Fever (Allergic Rhinitis)
• Acute Sinusitis
• Chronic Sinusitis
• Nasal Polyps
• Deviated Septum
• Turbinate Hypertophy
The most common problem associated with the sinuses is hay fever, also known as allergic rhinitis. This condition occurs most commonly during the spring season due to allergens such as pollen. However, allergic rhinitis can also develop due to pet dander and dust. Symptoms associated with allergic rhinitis include nasal congestion, sneezing, itching, and mucus. It is commonly treated with nasal sprays, such as Nasonex. People can also sometimes find relief by using over-the-counter allergy medication, such as Reactine.
Acute sinusitis is the result of a virus, bacteria, or fungi which infects the sinus cavity and causes inflammation along with other symptoms such as nasal congestion, mucus, and pain in the cheeks, forehead, and/or around the eyes. Headaches are also a common symptom with acute sinusitis. If an infection is present, patients are usually treated with a course of antibiotics. Sometimes an x-ray will be necessary to determine whether or not an infection is present. However, another telltale sign of infection is if your mucus is green in colour. Chronic sinusitis can also occur, and it is much more than just repeated sinus infections. If you have chronic sinusitis, it means that your sinuses are persistently inflamed. To help get rid of chronic sinusitis, you may need to use nasal steroids as well as saline nasal irrigation. If the aforementioned methods do not provide you any relief, your doctor will likely refer you to an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) specialist, and you may even be a candidate for endoscopic sinus surgery.