Acute Sinusitis


Signs of Acute Sinusitis

  • A cold that starts to get better, then gets worse
  • Pain that’s only on one side of the face
  • Pain that starts when you lean forward
  • Fevers
  • Thick green or yellow nasal mucus
  • An ache in the upper teeth

But what are the Sinuses?

The sinuses are often referred to, but their function is more rarely revealed. They are air spaces in the bones around the nose and eyes that serve to make the skull lighter and improve the sound of one’s voice. Sinuses are also responsible for making mucus, a fluid that helps to warm and moisturize the air one breathes. Cilia (small hairs lining the sinuses) help to sweep this mucus out of the sinuses and into the nose.

How Sinuses get infected

A sinus infection (Acute Sinusitis) is caused by anything that blocks the sinus openings or keeps the cilia from moving. The resulting build-up of mucus makes a great place for germs to grow. Things that help create such a condition are:

  • colds or upper respiratory infections
  • hay fever or allergies
  • air pollution and cigarette smoke
  • nasal or dental procedures
  • traveling at high altitudes or swimming under water
  • hormone changes that come with puberty
  • pregnancy or aging
  • immune disorders like diabetes or AIDS

Treating Acute Sinusitis

Though some sinus infections need treatment with antibiotics, and others get better virtually on their own, there are some behaviors that can aid the healing process:

  • Get plenty of rest. When sleeping, try to lie on the side that is least congested so as to reduce the chance of further congestions.
  • Sip hot liquids and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Apply moist heat (hot, wet towels, steam baths, etc.)
  • Rinse the nasal passages with a saline solution to remove excess mucus: either make some (1/4 tsp. table salt in 1 cup warm water) or get some at a store, squirting it into each nostril for several minutes three to four times a day.
  • Use over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) for pain; avoid aspirin if you’re under 20.
  • Talk with a doctor before using cold medicines — some actually make the sinus infection worse by drying out mucus membranes, blocking sinus openings, disturbing sleep, increasing nervousness, or raising blood pressure or pulse rate.
  • Be careful of nasal decongestant sprays, since using them for more than three days can cause chronic congestion. It’s best to use short-acting sprays like Neo-Synepherine and Afrin 4-Hour.

For More Information

Contact the Health Center for more information regarding sinus infections and their treatment.

Thanks to the American Academy of Physicians for providing relevant information.