. Friday, September 19, 2008
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Have you ever told a forgetful friend that he has holes in his head? You were only teasing, of course, but you weren’t entirely wrong. The truth is, we all have holes in our head. They’re called sinuses, and they’re simply empty spaces––one above each eye, one below and two on each side of the nose. The sinuses are lined with membranes that produce mucus.

Mucus is the stuff that prevents your breathing apparatus from getting dry and irritated and that helps to filter dust from the air you breathe. When all is well, mucus flows in and out of your sinuses freely.

When you have a head cold, however, or when your nose is all stopped up with allergies, problems may arise. “These conditions can cause an obstruction, blocking off the openings to the sinuses,” explains Raymond G. Slavin, M.D., professor of internal medicine and director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at St. Louis University School of Medicine. Bacteria that normally are harmless may then set up camp in the stagnant mucus. The resulting infection can cause fever, headaches, facial pain and foul-tasting mucus that slides down the back of your throat. Instead of getting better after three or four days, as you would with a simple cold, you feel worse. That’s sinusitis.

“It’s an incredibly common disease, affecting close to 32 million Americans a year,” Dr. Slavin says. Fortunately, it’s rarely serious. Better yet, it can often be prevented. Here’s how.

Save your sinuses
To prevent sinusitis, you must keep your sinuses open, Dr Slavin says. To do that, you need to battle congestion. So the next time a cold or allergies have you stuffed up, go on the offensive.

Get steamed. “Steam inhalations are very, very helpful,” Dr. Slavin says. Moist heat helps by making the mucus more watery, which helps it drain from the sinuses. One way to work up a good head of steam is to settle in for a long, hot shower or bath. Competition for the bathroom, however, can make this remedy difficult to implement. As an alternative, you might apply a warm washcloth to the nasal area, Dr. Slavin says.

Drink to your condition. Drinking lots of fluids––at least one glass every few hours––helps your body to thin the mucus, says Dr. Slavin. The thinner the mucus, the less likely it is to block up your sinuses. Hot fluids such as chicken soup are even better. The hot, soothing steam helps make the mucus extra watery, which helps it to drain.

If you smoke, stop. Cigarettes dry the delicate mucous membranes insides the nasal passages. This is one reason smokers get more colds and flus than nonsmokers. This, in turn, makes smokers more prone to sinusitis. It’s a good idea to stay away from other people’s cigarettes, too.

Condition the air. Air conditioners, during allergy season, may help prevent sinusitis by keeping irritating pollen outside. Humidifiers and vaporizers, by adding moisture to the air––and moisture to your nose––can also help by keeping the mucus draining. Both air-conditioning filters and humidifiers must be cleaned scrupulously to avoid the accumulation of mold, Dr. Slavin says.

Visit your pharmacy. “We encourage people who are all clogged up to use a decongestant for a couple of days, “says Dr. Slavin. By shrinking swollen nasal tissues and helping sinuses drain, over-the-counter decongestants––sprays or pills––may help keep your plugged-up sinuses clear of infection.

However, Dr. Slavin adds, you shouldn’t use decongestant nasal sprays for more than a few days without consulting your doctor. With long-term use, they can irritate the delicate linings in the nose. And when you stop using them, they can cause “rebound” congestion that can be worse than the original problem.

Sniff some saline spray. These over-the-counter nasal sprays, used several times a day, can help clear mucus from your nasal passages, making it easier for your sinuses to drain. At the same time, the salty solution can decrease blood flow to the nose, which helps prevent further congestion. Unlike the decongestant sprays, saline sprays may be used as long as you like.

Don’t be a blowhard. Too-powerful nose blowing can actually force bacteria-laden mucus backward from the nasal passages into the sinuses. When you blow, blow gently, Dr. Slavin advises.

Feast on fire. If you’ve ever dipped a corn chip into a wicked hot sauce, you know that spicy foods can really open your nasal faucets. This is because many spicy foods contain chemicals––capsaicin, for example––that stimulate nerves in the mouth and throat. This in turn triggers a runny nose. So the next time your nose is blocked up, unplug it with your favorite culinary combustibles.

Keep the dental appointment. Bacteria will occasionally migrate from nearby teeth into the sinuses, causing infection there. By keeping your teeth in tip-top shape, you can help prevent dental abscesses and the risk of sinusitis.

Keep yourself grounded. Activities such as flying, skydiving and scuba diving cause pressure changes inside your head. Not only can these changes make the mucus slow to drain, they also can make your sinuses feel stuffy. Play it safe and stay on terra firma until your head clears.

Watch (and wash) your hands. Since sinusitis typically follows colds and allergies, you can beat it simply by staying healthy. Since cold-causing viruses often are spread by human hands, keeping your hands clean and away from your nose and mouth can help keep your sinuses clear.

Beating infection
In many cases, sinusitis disappears on its own, especially if you take good care of yourself. (All of the above tips for sinusitis prevention will also help to threat it). But sometimes, despite even the best care, sinusitis can linger––for weeks, months, even years. If, after a few weeks, your head still feels like it’s stuffed with wet paper towels, then it’s time to see your doctor, Dr. Slavin says. And don’t worry: Sinusitis is easily treated, most often with antibiotics such as ampicillin and amoxicillin. You should be feeling better in just a few days.

But don’t let your sudden good health fool you into thinking you’re cured, Dr. Slavin adds. You’re not out of the woods yet. After all, there may still be bacteria kicking around in your sinuses. If you stop taking the pills before you’re supposed to, you’ll be giving these resistant bacteria the opportunity to rally and fight back. If they succeed, you’ll get sick all over again. No matter how good you feel, you must take the entire prescription, Dr. Slavin says.

While you’re taking antibiotics, your doctor may want you to take decongestant pills or sprays at the same time. “We also sometimes prescribe a cortisone nasal spray, which can help reduce inflammation,” Dr. Slavin says.

A combination of drugs will usually clear up the worst symptoms. In rare cases, however, your doctor may recommend minor surgery to drain accumulated mucus from the sinuses and to remove infected tissue. Your doctor can do this surgery a number of ways. In most cases, it can be performed through the nostrils with an instrument called a nasal endoscope. It’s generally an office procedure done under local anesthesia.


BSR E.N.T Nursing Home said...

Most of us may have experienced Sinusitis at some point in our lifetime, with symptoms like debilitating headaches, fever, nasal congestion and obstruction. Sinusitis is more widespread than diabetes, asthma or coronary heart disease in India, with an estimated 134 million suffering from the disease as per National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases' (NIAID).

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