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Help me, my sinuses are killing me! Have you ever said that before? If your answer is no, you are very lucky. Because every year millions of liras are spent for sinus problems (nasal fullness, headache, and nasal discharge).

DOES EVERYONE HAVE SINUS?

Yes, even a newborn baby has sinuses, even they are very small. These cavities, beginning as pea-sized pouches, expand outward from the inside of the nose to the bones of the face and skull. They continue to expand and grow throughout childhood and young adulthood. They are air pouches. They are covered by the same membrane that covers the inner surface of the nose and are connected to the nasal cavity with openings as large as a pencil head.

WHAT DO SINUSES DO?

Sinuses are a part of the system of the nose which produces normal secretion (mucus). Normally, the nose and sinuses secrete about half a liter of mucus per day. The produced mucus moves on the mucosa, sweeping and washing dust particles, bacteria and other airborne particles. This mucus is then is swept into the back of the throat and swallowed. Particles and bacteria in it are broken down by gastric acid. Many people are not aware of this because it is a normal body function.

WHAT DOES POSTNASAL DRIP MEAN?

Inside the nose produces too much mucus than normal when disturbed by air pollution, allergy-causing substances, smoke or viruses. This is a transparent, water-like secretion that is produced plentifully to wash and remove the allergic substance from the nasal membranes. A water-like secretion forms towards the back of the nose. This is the most important cause of postnasal drip. Another type of mucus is sticky and thick. This occurs when the airways are too dry and the membranes cannot secrete enough fluid. In cases of infections caused by bacteria, a sticky and thick mucus is also observed, meanwhile the color of the mucus may be yellow or green due to pus.

WHAT IS SINUS?

The suffix “-itis” refers to infection or inflammation in medicine. Therefore, sinusitis is an infection or inflammation of the sinuses. A typical case of acute sinusitis is manifested by plenty of mucus secretion as a result of cold or an allergic attack. The membranes can swell so much that the small openings of the sinuses are blocked. If the air and mucus cannot move freely between the nose and sinuses, the mucus accumulates in the sinuses and causes increased pressure. Depending on the affected sinus, pain arises by compression on the face or forehead, between or behind the eyes, on the cheeks and upper teeth. A blocked and mucus-filled sinus is a suitable environment for the growth of bacteria. If the cold lasts longer than normal and the color of the mucus turns green-yellow or a strange taste arises, a bacterial infection has possibly developed. Facial and forehead pain can be very severe in cases of acute sinusitis. In cases where the sinus opening is blocked for a long time, chronic sinusitis develops. Headache is rare but discharge and malodor persist. As a result of excessive inflammation, formations, called polyps, develop. Some cases of sinusitis occur as a result of passing of infection in the upper tooth into the sinus.

IS SINUSITIS DANGEROUS?

The majority of sinusitis cases respond to medical treatment and are not dangerous. However, an infection within the sinus is very close to both the eye and the brain. The spread of the infection to the eye or brain is very rare. Mucus draining from infected sinuses is not healthy for the lungs. Thus, sinusitis exacerbates bronchitis, chronic cough, or asthma, or causes them to occur.

WHAT IS SINUS HEADACHE?

During the cold or when the nasal membrane swells and the nose drains, or when the nose is full of mucus, a headache arising in the face, cheeks, forehead or around the eyes is probably sinusitis pain. Sinus infection causes this. Another kind of sinus headache occurs when the plane descends to land. This especially becomes significant if you have a cold or active allergy (this is called a “vacuum headache”). Unfortunately, there are many other causes of headaches that can be confused with sinusitis. For example, migraine and other vascular or “tension” headaches can be confused with sinusitis since they both cause pain in the forehead and around the eyes and cause nasal discharge. But such headaches are more likely to come and go away in a short time without a doctor’s intervention. They are different from sinusitis that persists for a long time without a doctor’s intervention and can be treated with antibiotherapy. Furthermore, intermittent headaches that cause nausea and vomiting are more likely a migraine-type headache. For the diagnosis of severe, frequent, or prolonged headaches, the patient should certainly visit a doctor.

WHO FACES WITH THE SINUS PROBLEM?

In fact, everyone can have a sinus infection, but some groups are more sensitive.

Allergic individuals: Just like a cold, an allergy attack causes swelling of the mucosa, blocking of sinus canals, prevention of mucous discharge and bacterial infection. Those with structural nasal deformities to prevent good breathing and mucous discharge: For example, a fractured nose or septum deviation (septum is a cartilage structure that divides the nose into the right and left between the nostrils. The deviation of this structure to one side is called deviation.) Those frequently exposed to infection: School teachers and healtcare staff are sensitive. Smokers: Tobacco smoke, nicotine disrupt the natural resistance mechanism.

WHAT WILL THE DOCTOR DO FOR MY SINUSES?

Your doctor will ask you questions about your breathing, the color and smell of your nasal discharge, and what events (at what time of day or what season) cause these symptoms. Be prepared to describe your headache, when and how often it occurs, how long it lasts, whether it is associated with nausea, vomiting, visual impairment, or nasal congestion. The otorhinolaryngologist will examine your ear, nose, mouth, teeth and throat, paying particular attention to the appearance of the mucosa and the nature of the secretion. S/he will examine the sensitivity of your nose. In some cases, x-rays of your sinuses may be necessary. The treatment will be related to your doctor’s diagnosis. Antibiotherapy or surgical intervention or both may sometimes be required for infections. Acute sinusitis usually responds to antibiotherapy, whereas chronic sinusitis usually requires surgical intervention. Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) that has recently been used is a simple technique used for the treatment of these diseases. The results are quite successful. If the symptoms are caused by allergy, migraine or sinusitis, your doctor will utilize an alternative treatment plan.

WHAT CAN I DO FOR MY SINUSES?

If you are allergic, check this. Use a steam humidifier when you have a cold. Sleep with the head of your bed elevated. Decongestants can be used, but the chemicals in them can act as adrenaline, which can be risky for hypertensive individuals. They are also stimulants that cause insomnia. Consult your doctor before use. Avoid contaminants that irritate your nose, especially cigarette smoke. Follow a balanced diet, exercise regularly. Try to limit your relationship with people you know to be infected, and if that doesn’t happen, take some precautions (washing hands, not using common towels and aprons). Many over-the-counter sinus medicines are sold, but it is not correct to use them without a definitive diagnosis. It is best to use the medicines prescribed by your doctor who will examine you and know your complaints.