Sinusitis is the inflammation of the lining of the air-filled cavities within the bones of the face. They are called paranasal sinuses because they are located next to the nose. There are 2 sinuses behind the forehead (frontal), 2 (4) at either side of the bridge of the nose (ethmoid), 2 behind the eyes (sphenoid) and 2 behind the cheekbones (maxillary). The sinuses are interconnected and also connect with the nasal cavity.
The normal function of sinuses is to help to warm up the temperature and control the humidity of the air reaching the lungs. Some mucus is produced by the sinuses and it is drained into the nose through small ducts. If these ducts become obstructed, the mucus can be trapped into the cavities and become infected.
Sinusitis can be classified as acute (clears up within 12 weeks) or chronic (persists more than 12 weeks).
Symptoms of sinusitis are:
- Blocked nose
- Thick nasal discharge (this is not invariably present)
- Headache or toothache
- Tenderness and facial pain, especially when the patient lean forwards.
- Post-nasal drip (a sensation of sticky mucus at the back of the throat)
Children can present with:
- Mouth breathing and have difficulty feeding.
- Speech may sound nasal
Also, patients can complain of:
- Loss of taste and smell
- Pressure in your ears
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- General malaise
- Throat clearing
Causes of sinusitis include infections (viral, bacterial, fungus), irritants (tobacco, chemicals, pollution), allergies, structural abnormalities causing narrowing of nose passages (trauma, nasal polyps) and very rarely cystic fibrosis.