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Sinusitis

  • What is Sinusitis?

    The sinuses are hollow cavities in the skull that can fill up with mucus when infected. The mucus produced in the sinuses usually drains out of the nose. Each sinus is covered with a mucous membrane, which can become inflamed and swollen. The flow of mucus out of the sinuses is then obstructed and the mucus accumulates in the sinuses, therefore leading to sinusitis.

    Sinusitis affects many people including children. There are two types of sinusitis:

    • Acute sinusitis also known as acute rhinosinusitis
    • Chronic sinusitis which lasts for at least eight weeks, even with treatment
  • Sinusitis is commonly caused by:

    • Anatomical abnormalities of the nose such as a crooked nasal septum, untreated allergic rhinitis (allergic inflammation of airways in the nose), and tooth infections.
    • Fungal infections – fungal sinusitis usually affects people with a weakened immune system.
    • Viral and bacterial infections – these can be resolved with the right treatment in a reasonable amount of time.
  • The symptoms of sinusitis include:

    • Bad breath
    • Coughing caused by mucus dripping down the back of the throat
    • Difficulty breathing through the nose due to nasal congestion
    • Fatigue
    • Feeling full in the face
    • Feeling heavy in the head
    • Fever
    • Nausea and giddiness
    • Pain and swelling around the eyes, nose, cheeks and forehead
    • Reduced sense of smell and taste
    • Thick yellow- or green-coloured nasal discharge
  • Treatment of acute sinusitis includes:

    • Antibiotics and decongestants to manage the infection and allow the natural flow of mucus out of the sinuses to be restored>

    Treatment of chronic sinusitis requires surgery to reverse the obstruction in the sinuses. Surgical options include:

    • Balloon Sinuplasty - less invasive than FESS, it uses specialised instruments to insert a balloon to dilate the sinus opening and therefore restore normal mucus flow in the sinuses, without tissue or bone removal
    • Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) - a minimally invasive procedure that consists of inserting an endoscope through the nose to clear out infected tissues in the nose
    • Spreading of infection to the eye socket or into the fluid surrounding the brain
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