How is sinusitis diagnosed?
Because your nose can get stuffy when you have a condition like the common cold, you may confuse simple nasal congestion with sinusitis. A cold, however, usually lasts about 7 to 14 days and disappears without treatment. Acute sinusitis often lasts longer and typically causes more symptoms than just a cold.
Your doctor can diagnose sinusitis by listening to your symptoms, doing a physical examination, and taking X-rays, and if necessary, an MRI or CT scan (magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography).
What are some treatments of acute and chronic sinusitis?
After diagnosing sinusitis and identifying a possible cause, a doctor can suggest treatments that will reduce your inflammation and relieve your symptoms.
If you have acute sinusitis, your doctor may recommend
- Decongestants to reduce congestion
- Antibiotics to control a bacterial infection, if present
- Pain relievers to reduce any pain
You should, however, use over-the-counter or prescription decongestant nose drops and sprays for only few days. If you use these medicines for longer periods, they can lead to even more congestion and swelling of your nasal passages.
If bacteria cause your sinusitis, antibiotics used along with a nasal or oral decongestant will usually help. Your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic that fights the type of bacteria most commonly associated with sinusitis.
Many cases of acute sinusitis will end without antibiotics. If you have allergic disease along with infectious sinusitis, however, you may need medicine to relieve your allergy symptoms. If you already have asthma then get sinusitis, you may experience worsening of your asthma and should be in close touch with your doctor.
In addition, your doctor may prescribe a steroid nasal spray, along with other treatments, to reduce your sinus congestion, swelling, and inflammation.
Doctors often find it difficult to treat chronic sinusitis successfully, realizing that symptoms persist even after taking antibiotics for a long period. In general, however, treating chronic sinusitis, such as with antibiotics and decongestants, is similar to treating acute sinusitis.
Some people with severe asthma have dramatic improvement of their symptoms when their chronic sinusitis is treated with antibiotics.
Doctors commonly prescribe steroid nasal sprays to reduce inflammation in chronic sinusitis. Although doctors occasionally prescribe them to treat people with chronic sinusitis over a long period, they don’t fully understand the long-term safety of these medications, especially in children. Therefore, doctors will consider whether the benefits outweigh any risks of using steroid nasal sprays.
If you have severe chronic sinusitis, your doctor may prescribe oral steroids, such as prednisone. Because oral steroids are powerful medicines and can have significant side effects, you should take them only when other medicines have not worked.
Although home remedies cannot cure sinus infection, they might give you some comfort.
- Inhaling steam from a vaporizer or a hot cup of water can soothe inflamed sinus cavities.
- Saline nasal spray, which you can buy in a drug store, can give relief.
- Gentle heat applied over the inflamed area is comforting.
When medical treatment fails, surgery may be the only alternative for treating chronic sinusitis. Research studies suggest that the vast majority of people who undergo surgery have fewer symptoms and better quality of life.
In children, problems often are eliminated by removal of adenoids obstructing nasal-sinus passages.
Adults who have had allergic and infectious conditions over the years sometimes develop nasal polyps that interfere with proper drainage. Removal of these polyps and/or repair of a deviated septum to ensure an open airway often provides considerable relief from sinus symptoms.
The most common surgery done today is functional endoscopic sinus surgery, in which the natural openings from the sinuses are enlarged to allow drainage. This type of surgery is less invasive than conventional sinus surgery, and serious complications are rare.
It might help to investigate using alternative therapies such as acupuncture, acupressure and reflexology in addition to treatments that your doctor may suggest.
See also: Sinus Nasal Irrigation