Sinusitis is a condition in which the lining of your sinuses becomes inflamed.

The sinuses are four hollow air spaces within the bones surrounding your nose.  They produce mucous, a fluid that cleans bacteria and other particles out of the air you breathe.  The cilia, tiny hairs located in the sinuses, remove mucous from the sinuses which then drains out through the nose.

When your nose is swollen it blocks the sinuses and causes pain.  This is known as sinusitis, inflammation of the sinuses.  There are several types of sinusitis: Acute, which lasts up to 4 weeks; Subacute, which lasts 4 to 12 weeks; Chronic, which lasts more than 12 weeks and can continue for months or even years; and Recurrent, with several attacks within a year.

Symptoms of sinusitis include: pain or pressure in your cheeks, forehead, nose, and between your eyes, nasal congestion, fever, cough, mucous drainage in the back of the throat (postnasal drip), bad breath, reduced sense of smell, weakness or fatigue and toothache.

The swelling of the sinuses can be caused by a cold, allergies, changes in temperature or air pressure, growths called polyps, and certain conditions such as a deviated septum.

When bacteria or a virus causes sinusitis, it is called a sinus infection. The virus attacks the lining of your sinuses, causing swelling and narrowing of the openings.  The body responds to the virus by producing more mucous which then gets blocked in the sinuses.  The buildup of mucous is an excellent place for bacteria to grow.

Sinusitis cannot be prevented and there are certain factors that increase your risk of sinusitis.  These include allergies, having a cold, using decongestant nasal sprays too much and smoking.

There are several treatment options for sinusitis. They vary depending on the cause of the condition.  Saline nasal spray cleans out the nasal passages to help clear congestion.  Nasal irrigation with a saline solution flushes out the sinuses and loosens thick mucous.  Over-the-counter decongestant medicines help to relieve sinus pain and pressure.  Your doctor may suggest a decongestant nasal spray to treat swelling and can prescribe allergy medicine to treat conditions caused by allergies.  Severe cases caused by bacteria may require an antibiotic also prescribed by a doctor. 

There are things you can do to help prevent sinusitis.  Lay on your side rather than on your back as this helps you to breathe better.  Sipping hot liquids helps to soothe your throat.  A warm, wet towel applied to your face helps to relieve sinus pressure and open the sinus passages.

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