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The doctor is in: Sinus solutions

How to tackle problems caused by sinus infections

The doctor is in: Sinus solutions
Smoking can also increase the chances of getting a sinus infection.

By Dr Suresh Singh Naruka

What causes sinus problems? Is it internal or caused by external factors?

Sinus infections occur when fluid accumulates in the air-filled pockets in the face (sinuses). This fluid accumulation allows germs to grow. The majority of sinus infections are caused by viruses, but bacteria can also cause sinus infections. Anyone can get a sinus infection. Sinusitis is more common in people who have nasal allergies, nasal polyps, asthma, or abnormal nose structures. Smoking can also increase the chances of getting a sinus infection. Among the specific causes are:

  • A typical cold
  • Mold allergies, as well as nasal and seasonal allergies
  • Polyps
  • The septum is the cartilage line that separates your nose. A deviated septum is one that is not straight, causing it to be closer to the nasal passage on one side
  • A weakened immune system as a result of illness or medication

Is it aggravated when the weather changes?

A change in the weather isn’t a big deal for most people. It entails switching their clothes and resetting their thermostat. However, for some unfortunate people, a change in the weather can cause severe sinus problems and migraine headaches.

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  • Barometric pressure and weather patterns: When the weather suddenly changes (including temperature and humidity), the nasal membranes can swell, resulting in a runny or stuffy nose. Changes in barometric pressure can also cause pain and discomfort in people who have sinusitis.
  • Dry air: Along with a drop in humidity and temperature, the fall and winter months often bring dry air, both indoors and out—and a slew of potential sinus discomforts.
  • Sinusitis and seasonal allergies: Weather changes and seasonal allergies can be a deadly combination for people who suffer from chronic sinusitis or other sinus health issues.

Is there any permanent treatment?

The majority of sinusitis and sinus headache treatment options are designed to provide temporary relief from symptoms when they occur:

  • Antibiotics for bacterial infections
  • Pain relievers
  • Mediation to alleviate inflammation
  • Making use of a humidifier or nasal spray
  • Drinking plenty of water

Although these treatments can be beneficial, they are not always effective for chronic sinusitis and will not keep the symptoms from returning. Permanent cures for chronic sinusitis and sinus headaches are sometimes possible, but it depends on the cause.

  • If the sinusitis is caused by allergies, one can try allergy testing to determine the cause and then avoid the trigger.
  • If the symptoms are caused by an infection, simple steps like hand washing and getting a flu shot can reduce one’s chances of becoming ill again.
  • If there is a physical reason why someone is more prone to sinusitis, it may be possible to correct it surgically and avoid future sinus problems.

Do home remedies work?

Sinus problems can be excruciatingly painful. However, there are home-effective remedies, ranging from chicken soup to compresses that one can use to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with sinus problems.

  • Drink plenty of fluids and use a humidifier.
  • Hot beverages, such as herbal tea, can be particularly hydrating.
  • Steam aids in congestion relief by loosening mucus.
  • Chicken soup helps to reduce inflammation caused by sinus congestion and colds.
  • When a bacterial infection is causing your sinus congestion, honey may be a good alternative.

How to control sinus flares?

  • Upper respiratory infections should be avoided. Avoid contact with people who are sick with colds or other infections. Hands should be washed frequently with soap and water, especially before meals.
  • Control your allergies.
  • Smoking and polluted air should be avoided.
  • Make use of a humidifier. If your home’s air is dry, adding moisture to the air may help prevent sinusitis.

Dr Suresh Singh Naruka is consultant, ENT & head/ neck surgery, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi

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