Sinus infections, also known as sinusitis, can be either chronic or acute. A chronic sinus infection will recur over time and an acute sinus infection will happen once and may never happen again. Even though individuals have seasonal allergies, they may not be subject to sinus infections. A sinus infection can be caused by a physical abnormality, a virus, it can be bacterial, or it can be the result of a fungal infection.
Lack of pain or nasal discharge doesn’t necessarily indicate the lack of sinusitis and not everyone will have all the symptoms of a sinus infection. Symptoms of sinusitis include swollen and inflamed nasal membranes, respiratory issues, nasal discharge, reduction of the sense of smell and taste, cough, and tenderness in the area of the nose, eyes, and forehead. Additional symptoms can include fatigue, nausea, pain in one or both ears, and a sore throat. Sinus drainage can cause nausea and a sore throat but aren’t always present, depending on the individual. Sometimes a fever can be present with acute sinusitis but generally, the symptoms of chronic sinusitis don’t include a fever. With all of the symptoms explained, the question still remains: “what causes sinusitis?”
The presence of nasal polyps or other physical abnormalities can trigger a sinus infection. Polyps are benign tissue growths that can occur anywhere in the body. In the nasal passages, they can block the passageways and trigger a sinus infection. Other medical conditions such as a deviated septum, acid reflux, or an autoimmune disorder can also trigger chronic sinus infections. Seasonal allergies can inflame sensitive nasal membranes and can trigger an attack of sinusitis as can an infection of the respiratory tract. The common cold can also cause blockage that will prohibit mucus drainage which can result in an attack of sinusitis.
Those who are constantly exposed to air pollution such as cigarette or cigar smoke, whether first hand smoke or second hand smoke, can be more prone to developing a chronic sinus infection. These irritants cause the sinus membranes to become irritated and swollen which can result in blocked nasal passages. Cigarette smoke destroys the cilia that line the trachea and filter out harmful substances, which then freely enter the airways and begin their rampage. The harmful substances accumulate in the sinuses and eventually trigger a sinus infection because the body is unable to eliminate these foreign particles.
Those who live in arid climates may experience more sinus infections than those who live in more humid climes. Dry air can dry the mucus in the sinuses which can then become thick. Drinking ample amounts of water can help maintain the body’s hydration level but many professionals recommend using a humidifier to add moisture to the air for those who live in arid climates. Nasal irrigation products may also help but shouldn’t be used too frequently.
Some autoimmune disorders can cause an individual to have chronic bouts of sinusitis. A weakened immune system can result in inflammation of the nasal passages and thickening of the mucus in the sinuses. Cystic fibrosis, HIV, asthma, and other types of medical conditions can be responsible for chronic sinusitis that’s not the result of a viral or bacterial infection. When the sinus infection is successfully treated, the asthma symptoms will often improve. Those with compromised immune systems are more prone to fungal sinusitis than are healthy individuals. Sometimes, chronic sinusitis can be the result of an allergic reaction to the fungus and may require surgical intervention in order to remove the fungus. If a sinus infection is accompanied by a headache, fever, or eye problems, seek the advice of a medical professional without delay.
Since cabin air is dry and is usually pressurized to about 10,000 feet, it can trigger a sinus infection. Pressure will increase in the head and cause the nasal passageways to become blocked and swollen. Those who fly frequently can benefit from the use of a nasal spray in the form of drops or an inhaler used immediately before takeoff. Overuse of nasal inhalers isn’t recommended but for those who fly, it may be the lesser of two evils.
Those who frequently use nasal products to treat their chronic sinusitis may be exacerbating the issue. Prolonged use can result in a decreased sensitivity to the product and it’s therefore less effective. Frequents bouts of sinusitis may have another cause so those who experience them should consult their medical professional to ascertain the reason for the chronic sinus infections. Prolonged use can also trigger dependency, so whether it’s a prescription product or an over the counter product, nasal sprays and other products shouldn’t be used continuously for more than five days. Those who need them for longer should consult their medical professional.