(AscendHealthy.com) – The combination of dry sinuses and dry air can contribute to sinus problems. Additionally, allergens in indoor and outdoor environments and bacteria can cause sinus headaches, especially after the presence of a cold or anything else that fills your sinus cavities with bacteria. Inflammation of the sinuses is called sinusitis. Sinusitis can be chronic, recurring, subacute, or acute. Some people have polyps in their sinuses that create the conditions for sinusitis.
Children and babies have additional potential sinusitis causes: smoke in the environment around them, pacifier usage, and drinking bottles while laying on their backs.
Types of Sinusitis and Chronic Sinus Headaches
Acute sinusitis feels much like a cold and typically lasts 2-4 weeks without intervention. Subacute sinusitis sticks around from 4-12 weeks. Chronic sinusitis stays around even longer, and recurrent sinusitis is typically seasonal or reoccuring a few times per year. Doctors often consider sinusitis problematic when it interferes with a patient’s life: work, school, sleep, and family/social activities.
Take a Hot Shower
Clearing out the sinuses can provide temporary relief for sinus headaches, and steam is an excellent, easy way to provide moisture. If the person with sinus problems is able to stand hot water, they should let it run and let the steam soothe their sinuses. While in there, they should be generous about blowing their nose.
Consider Over-the-Counter Medications for Temporary Relief
Over-the-counter medications can be the first line of defense for sinus problems. Many people who suffer from sinus issues swear by Mucinex and Sudafed for this problem. However, recurring sinus problems may require intervention from a doctor. Prior to taking any over-the-counter meds, make sure they do not conflict with other medications the person is on.
If OTC medication is frequently required, there could be something more serious to address and it’s time to head to the doctor.
See an Ear, Nose, and Throat Doctor (ENT)
Ear, nose, and throat doctors specialize in just those parts — and how they are connected. Sinus pain and drainage can affect all of these areas, especially due to the way sinuses drain. An ENT doctor is an expert in examining and diagnosing such problems. An ENT might order various tests for a patient to get a better look at recurring sinus problems, including a CT scan.
Take an Allergy Test
Allergies can trigger inflamation and worsen sinus problems a patient may be predisposed to. The ENT may order an allergy test to get a better look at the types of triggers for sinus issues. There are several types of allergy tests, some of which require the person being tested to temporarily stop their medications for a period of two weeks prior to the test.
Consider Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
The ENT may suggest an endoscopic sinus surgery. Endoscopic sinus surgery is intended to relieve symptoms associated with sinusitis, nasal obstruction and congestion, nasal tumors, and recurrent infections of the sinus. A sinus surgery can also make nasal rinses more effective. The surgery is conducted without cutting skin, and surgeons perform the surgery directly through the nose. Recovery from endoscopic sinus surgeries can take at least six weeks, and can be extremely painful.
After surgery, or to generally treat acute, chronic, or recurring sinus problems, doctors will commonly proscribe prednisone or similar steroids. Zithromax, or a Z-Pak, is another medication often proscribed to deal with sinus issues. Always consult a doctor before taking medication — even the over the counter variety.
If sinus pain, tenderness, and pressure continue to bother someone, it’s time to seek relief through at-home measures like exposure to steam, or by consulting a doctor for a painful or recurring problem.
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