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A major problem

Surely you have heard more than once a family member, especially children and adults, complain about sinusitis, but… do we know what it is exactly? Well, nothing more or less than the inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, which are those hollow spaces where air passes through the inside of the bones surrounding the nose, cheeks, jaw and eyebrows

Chronic sinusitis is one of the most frequent health problems in the population and one of the main causes of consultation in otorhinolaryngology services.

The cause of this inflammation is usually a cold, which then develops into a bacterial infection, but allergies, nasal problems and certain diseases may also be behind it


It is important to see your primary care physician or ENT specialist if any of these signs combine

  • Nasal congestion
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Throat drainage
  • Decreased sense of smell and taste
  • Bad breath (called halitosis)
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Toothache
  • Pain or pressure in the cheeks, forehead and nose, or between the eyes
  • Headache

For a correct diagnosis, a medical evaluation of these symptoms together with an examination of the nose and face is necessary. Radiological tests may be needed to see the inflammation more precisely


There are several types of sinusitis, depending on its duration

  • Acute: lasts up to four weeks
  • Subacute: lasts from four to 12 weeks
  • Chronic: lasts longer than 12 weeks and may continue for months or even years
  • Recurrent – several attacks within a year

Acute sinusitis usually begins as a cold, which then develops into a bacterial infection. Allergies, nasal problems and certain diseases can also cause acute and chronic sinusitis


Treatment options include antibiotics, decongestants and pain relievers, depending on the cause of your condition. In addition, the use of heating pads on the inflamed area, saline nasal sprays and vaporizers can reduce swelling and aid mucus drainage

  • Saline nasal spray: Cleans the nasal passages and helps clear congestion, although it is not recommended for use for more than 3 days as it may worsen sinus inflammation.
  • Nasal irrigation devices: mainly provide relief by aiding in the drainage of mucus. These are devices that look like a small kettle with a long spout for flushing the nostrils with distilled or sterile water (or tap water boiled for at least 3 minutes). It is not safe to use regular tap water, as it may contain bacteria or parasites that infect our nasal passages.
  • Decongestant medications: relieve sinus pain and pressure. In general, they should only be used on a short-term basis.
  • Over-the-counter analgesics: they can also relieve pain, but always consult with your doctor, as some may worsen symptoms or cause other side effects.
  • Anti-allergy medications: In the case of sinusitis caused by allergies, the treatment of sinusitis should be directly related to the primary treatment of the allergy in question. For example, there are more and more cases of chronic rhinosinusitis: a permanent process of sinusitis and rhinitis resulting from inflammation of the respiratory epithelium which, in turn, increases permeability to allergens and decreases mucus clearance.
  • Antibiotics: In cases of severe bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic treatment for 10 to 14 days. Although you will probably feel better from the first few days, it is important to respect the duration and not to interrupt it prematurely.

Sinusitis usually disappears with the appropriate treatment, depending on the causes already mentioned. However, in people prone to sinusitis, it is advisable to maintain healthy lifestyle habits and practice routines that favor the decongestion of the nose and sinuses

  • Get enough rest and try to lie on your side or elevate yourself a little with a pillow to breathe better.
  • Drink plenty of fluids: water is always a great ally when it comes to eliminating mucus. And if they are warm liquids, even better, to soothe the throat and calm irritations.
  • Apply heat: from a warm, wet towel pressing on the nose and forehead area to salt water or eucalyptus vapours, heat relieves pressure in the sinuses and helps open the nasal passages.
  • Avoid alcohol: It can worsen sinus inflammation.