The sinuses are spaces in the skull that are filled with air. These spaces are behind the cheeks, eyes, nose and the forehead, and are filled with mucus membranes. The mucus is normally able to find a way out and the air can circulate freely. When they become blocked bacteria can grow quickly. The main causes of this are normally colds and allergies, which cause a large amount of mucus that will block up the cavities.
There are three main types of sinusitis, acute sinusitis can last up to four weeks and sub-acute sinusitis can last up to 12 weeks while chronic sinusitis is any sinus infection that lasts three months or more. Symptoms include bad breath, bad coughs, fatigue, and headaches with pressure-like pain behind the eyes. Toothache, nasal congestion and a sore throat are other common symptoms.
Doctors will check your nose, eyes and throat and X-rays are sometimes used. Sinusitis can be self-treated by drinking plenty of fluids every day, as well using a nasal spray to clear excess mucus. Other useful tips for helping to treat sinusitis are applying warm cloths to the face, or inhale steam three to four times a day.
For more serious cases further treatment may be necessary, this could include surgery to clean the affected sinuses. This is normally recommended to patients who suffer regularly from sinusitis. Some complications of sinusitis can include skin infections, abscesses and meningitis. These complications are rare though.
It is generally advised, that if after 10 days of self-treatment the symptoms continue, that patients contact their doctor. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, reducing stress levels and taking lots of fluids can help people to avoid sinusitis.