People having a stuffy and running nose during winter months is quite common. The problem doesn’t end here, as it is this area where germs can cause an infection. If that’s the case,you probably have sinusitis. A sinus infection is considered a very common problem in India, as per National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In fact, more than 130 million people in India suffer from chronic sinusitis. So, having fever, headaches, fever and nasal congestion could be a sign of sinusitis. Even though sinusitis is common, there are many myths revolving around sinus.
To debunk snus myths, HealthShots connected with Dr Rahul Sharma, Additional Director Pulmonology and Critical Care, Fortis Hospital, Noida, and Dr Mugdha Tapdiya, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, Delhi.
What is sinusitis?
The small pockets of air that start from your nose from around the eyes and go back to your cheekbones and forehead are sinuses. Sinusitis or a sinus infection is when there is an inflammatory reaction in this area, explains Dr Tapdiya. Sinuses can make mucus, which helps to keep the inside of your nose stay moist. That then helps to protect against dust, allergens, and pollutants. Normal and healthy sinuses are hollow and filled with air. But when they become blocked with phlegm, germs can grow and cause an infection (how to get rid of phlegm).
Types of sinus infections
Sinusitis can be of a few different types, while they all may depict similar symptoms, says Dr Tapdiya.
1. Acute sinusitis
The onslaught of acute sinusitis starts with symptoms resembling common cold. So, if you have acute sinusitis, you may have a runny and stuffy nose and nasal pain. It may start suddenly and last for two to four weeks.
2. Subacute sinusitis
This happens due to seasonal allergies and bacterial infections. This sinusitis lasts up to 12 weeks.
3. Chronic sinusitis
Chronic sinusitis, which has symptoms that last for more than 12 weeks, often shows less severe symptoms than acute sinusitis symptoms, and fever is rare. A few of the symptoms associated with this kind is nasal congestion, drainage, facial pain and a decreased sense of smell.
4. Recurrent acute sinusitis
As the name suggests, recurrent acute sinusitis is a reoccurring form of acute sinusitis with four episodes over one year. Each of these episodes of acute sinusitis last for at least a week.
Myths and facts about sinus
Whether it is your neighbour or a family member, everyone claims to know something about sinus. But not all of them are facts.
Myth 1: Sinusitis means quickly going for an antibiotic treatment.
Fact: It is not true, as most of the sinuses can be very well managed without antibiotics. Unnecessary antibiotics just increase the risk of resistance, says Dr Sharma.
Myth 2: Sinusitis is contagious, so people around you need to be careful
Fact: It is non-contagious, but people only catch nasal infection if the person with sinusitis also has viral nasal infection.
Myth 3: Sinusitis will improve on its own with time
Fact: Any type of blockage in the sinuses should be taken very seriously, says Dr Sharma. The common types of blockage are nasal fluid and nasal polyps. If left untreated, these can make it difficult to breath, interfere with sleep, and lead to serious infections.
Myth 4: Sinus surgery can cure sinusitis
Fact: Sinus surgery is not required for every sinusitis, and most can be very well managed just with oral nasal medication. Allergic sinusitis may recur after sinus surgery also.
Myth 5: Self-medication with OTC nasal spray can treat sinus
Fact: Most of the over-the-counter sprays give you temporary relief of symptoms with the risk of dependency. It will also increase your symptoms with prolonged use.
People often don’t even realise they have a sinus infection and suffer silently until it starts hindering their productivity. However, some health conditions can increase the risk factors to a great extent. It’s more likely to be a problem if you have:
• Previous history with nasal polyps
• Deficiency in the immune system or medications that repress the immune system
• Blocked drainage ducts
• Tobacco smoking
More often than not, sinusitis dissipates after a certain time, but there is nothing wrong in getting your doctor’s opinion.