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Practical Sinusitis Advice
Sinusitis is a common condition which causes the lining of the sinuses to swell up.
Sinuses are small cavities which help control the temperature and water content of air as you breathe in. There are four pairs of sinuses in the head: behind the forehead, nose, eyes and cheekbones.
Sinusitis often develops after a cold or flu and usually lasts around a fortnight.
Common Sinusitis Symptoms
Sinusitis can be very uncomfortable. There are eight sinuses in the head, grouped in pairs. Two are behind the forehead, two either side of the nose, two just behind the eyes and two behind the cheekbones.
The typical symptoms are a blocked or runny nose, pain around the face and a high temperature.
Sinusitis is often caused by an infection, such as cold or flu. However, it can also be brought on by exposure to irritants in the atmosphere (such as disinfectants, smoke or pesticides), allergies like hay fever or asthma, or cystic fibrosis.
Associated symptoms often include tiredness, a 'sinus' headache or sinus pain, a cough and pressure in the ears. The two largest sinuses, which sit behind the cheekbones, are the most commonly affected.
There are two types of sinusitis - acute, which usually follows a cold and lasts around two and a half weeks, and chronic - which can last for 12 weeks or more.
Recomended Sinusitis Treatments
Sinusitis will usually repair itself after a few weeks. Around 60% of cases won't need medical attention.
Over the counter medicines are available to help reduce the swelling, numb pain and unblock the nose.
Painkillers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin are anti-inflammatories, which can help relieve a headache and facial pain. Paracetamol will help reduce pain and can help control a high temperature.
Decongestants are another option - these are most effective in spray format. Whilst they don't treat sinusitis directly, they will help to alleviate the "bunged up" feeling. Decongestants should not be used over long periods, however.
In extreme causes of sinusitis, doctors may consider prescribing antibiotics, steroid sprays, or suggest surgery.