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Loosen the Grip of Sinusitis

 Head Stuffy? Silver Cross offers a free program that may answer your questions on May 24

Joliet, IL (May 18, 2011)—Acute sinusitis is a short-term, intense infection or inflammation of the membranes in your sinuses—the air-filled cavities in the bones around the eyes and behind the nose. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), millions of Americans develop this common condition at least once a year, especially in the spring. Symptoms of sinusitis can affect the nose, eyes or ears.

 “When you have a cold, the lining of your nose becomes inflamed and produces mucus. If the swelling spreads to your sinuses, the small openings that allow them to drain become narrower,” says Dr. Ankit Patel, ear, nose and throat surgeon, on staff at Silver Cross Hospital. “This traps air and mucus in your sinuses, making it easier for viruses, bacteria or -- rarely -- fungi to grow.”

Further, allergies also cause inflammation of the nasal membranes and can prevent the body's removal of bacteria commonly present in sinuses, causing sinusitis. In fact, people who suffer from nasal allergies are more likely to get sinus infections.

Symptoms of Sinusitis

Pain above or below the eyes that sometimes feel as though the pain is in the upper teeth along with facial pressures, are classic signs of sinusitis. Facial discomfort may feel worse when you bend over or when you lower your head on a level with or below your heart. Other symptoms include stuffy nose, nasal blockage, yellowish or gray-green mucus that doesn't go away, aching in your upper jaw and teeth, loss of smell or change in taste, headache, weakness and fatigue, bad breath, fever, coughing that may worsen at night, sore throat and/or ear pressure. Because these symptoms don't always indicate sinusitis, your healthcare provider may need to determine what's causing them.

 

Treatment Tips
Sinusitis is first treated with medicines and self-care methods that apply moist heat to your face. The goals of treatment are to improve drainage of mucus and reduce swelling, relieve pain and pressure, clear up infection, and prevent the formations of scar tissue to avoid permanent damage to the tissues lining the nose and sinuses.

Dr. Patel offers a few self-care strategies to help ease your symptoms and make you feel more comfortable. These  include:

  • A daily sinus rinse, such as the Neti Pot, help irrigate the nasal passage and is safe to use daily. These can be found over-the-counter and are a healthy and affordable option to help treat sinuses.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) decongestants can help relieve congestion in mucous membranes and restore sinus drainage. Taking an OTC medication that contains guaifenesin (Robitussin) along with plenty of water will help keep mucus thin, watery and flowing.
  • Decongestant nasal sprays may work, too. But, use these sprays for no more than three days, or your congestion could get worse. Be sure to read the packaging before trying any OTC medication to make sure you can take it safely.
  • Soothe your nasal passages by running a cool-mist vaporizer or using a saline nasal spray. Vaporizers should be cleaned daily or as instructed by the manufacturer.
  • Temporarily ease discomfort or pain with an OTC pain reliever, such as acetaminophen, aspirin or ibuprofen. But, don't give aspirin to anyone younger than age 19. It's linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but sometimes fatal condition.
  • If allergies are the cause of your sinusitis, your healthcare provider may suggest nasal antihistamines, Cromolyn and topical steroid nasal sprays to help control allergic inflammation.

 

For severe cases of sinusitis, surgery may be an option.  “The goal of surgery is to make drainage of the sinuses better, usually by removing the blockage and draining the mucus,” says Dr. Patel. “This may mean removing infected, swollen, or damaged tissue, removing bone to create a wider opening for drainage of mucus, or removing growths inside the nose or sinuses.”

Learn More
Join Dr. Ankit Patel, ear, nose and throat surgeon, on Tuesday, May 24, from 6:30 to 7:30  p.m. to learn more about the latest over-the counter medications and surgical techniques to alleviate sinus symptoms and pain. This free program, Head Stuffy? It's May Be Sinusitis, will be held in the Silver Cross Hospital Conference Center, 1200 Maple Rd., Joliet.  Register to attend at www.silvercross.org or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

About Silver Cross Hospital
Silver Cross Hospital is a not-for-profit health care provider serving Will County and southwest suburban communities since 1895.  Silver Cross has been recognized as a Thomson Reuters 100 Top Hospitals National Award winner for the last seven consecutive years and as one of America’s Most Customer Friendly Hospitals by the American Alliance of Healthcare Providers. With over 2,900 employees, physicians and volunteers, Silver Cross operates a 304-bed acute care hospital and eight satellite facilities providing outpatient services and physician offices. Construction has begun to build a state-of-the-art replacement hospital opening in 2012 in New Lenox. To learn more about Silver Cross Hospital or a referral to a physician on staff, visit www.silvercross.org or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

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