Certain injuries and health conditions are well known for causing considerable pain. While some people may think that sinus issues are only mildly uncomfortable, the truth is that sinusitis is a common ailment that can be extremely painful for some. Let’s look at what sinusitis is and its common symptoms.
What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses, also often called a “sinus infection.” Sinusitis can occur on its own or in response to allergies, but it often happens after a cold that just doesn’t seem to go away. Inflamed sinuses make it difficult to breathe through the nose and can even cause facial pain. When the sinus tissues are inflamed, it is difficult for mucus to drain normally.
Sinus Pressure and Congestion
Sinus pressure and congestion are among the most common symptoms of sinusitis. However, these symptoms can also make it difficult to tell when sinus issues have turned from a cold-related nuisance to a full-blown infection because many common colds also include sinus pressure and congestion. Inhaling may feel sharp and painful. If the pressure and congestion are a bit worse than normal, and they seem to linger more than usual, it could be a sign of an infection.
Sinusitis often comes with facial pain. The swelling of the sinuses presses down on nerves in the face, which causes the pain and sensitivity. This discomfort can radiate to the entire face, but occurs most frequently behind and around the eyes, in the forehead, nose and cheeks. Similarly, even the teeth can feel more sore and sensitive. Inflamed sinuses make it feel like the entire face is swollen.
Another very common symptom of inflamed sinuses is a sinus headache. Unlike a tension headache, which can usually be relieved with relaxation techniques and an analgesic like acetaminophen, it can be very difficult to get relief from a sinus headache. Some may be inclined to take a decongestant, which would also have the potential benefit of alleviating the stuffy nose and trouble breathing, but it can often backfire and make a sinus headache worse. A helpful hint: added moisture in the air, such as from a vaporizer, is more likely to relieve a sinus headache than a decongestant.
Loss of Smell or Taste
A distinguishing factor between a garden-variety cold and sinusitis is that the loss of the senses of taste or smell rarely happens with a cold, but is more likely to happen with inflamed sinuses.
Effects of Sinus Drainage
Inflamed sinuses also cause increased sinus drainage. This can cause bad breath, especially if using decongestants, which cause dry mouth. Sinus drainage also causes a sore throat that feels raw and scratchy. This may also be caused by post-nasal drip. The sinus drainage may also cause a cough. In addition, the mucus associated with sinusitis is often yellow and/or green.
A feeling of general fatigue is another common symptom when the sinuses are inflamed. The fatigue is likely due to the efforts the body is taking to fight off the infection taking place in the sinuses.
American Sinus Institute
Sinusitis comes in several stages, including the acute stage that lasts up to four weeks and usually occurs after a cold. Sub-acute cases can last up to 12 weeks without significant relief. Treatment options for both acute and sub-acute stages may be supportive, such as use of decongestants, pain relievers, saline nasal sprays and vaporizers. Depending on the severity of symptoms, patients may also be prescribed antibiotics.
Some may deal with chronic sinus inflammation, which lingers for more than 12 weeks and can last for months, and an unlucky few deal with several times a year. In these lingering or recurring cases, the doctor may consider more serious interventions such as balloon sinuplasty.
At the American Sinus Institute, we are experts in treating sinusitis. If you are experiencing regular symptoms like those listed above, please know that we can help provide relief up to and including balloon sinuplasty. Contact us for more information.