Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sinus infections

Sinus infections hurt; they hurt the head, they hurt the teeth, they just plain hurt. But, did you realize that a sinus infection can go beyond being just painful? A sinus infection that abscesses can cause brain damage and even death. Someone I know lost her brother to a sinusitis that abscessed and, when I worked in a school for physically handicapped children, there was a girl there who is a quadriplegic because of the same cause.

In other words – you can’t fool around with infected sinuses.

Ok, so what exactly are the sinuses?

They are empty cavities in your skull, behind your nose and eyes, which help lessen the weight of your head, some say. They are supposed to stay empty. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology has this good diagram to show you the different sinuses and where they are.

While they are supposed to stay empty, sinuses can fill with mucus when you have a cold or are experiencing an allergy. This can cause pressure and pain. If the mucus becomes inflamed (swollen), you have sinusitis.

Acute sinusitis lasts a couple of weeks and usually goes away with treatment. If your sinusitis does not go away or keeps returning, this is called chronic sinusitis. You only need antibiotics if the there is an infection, not if there is just inflammation.

Where the pain is located depends on the sinus cavity that is inflamed. If it is the frontal sinus, the pain is usually just above the eyebrows, around the forehead. The maxillary sinus is closer to your nose and jaw, so your jaw may be tender and feel as if there is a lot of pressure. You may even have a toothache or sore cheekbones. The ethmoid sinuses are between and behind your eyes, so this is where the pressure and pain would be, and the sphenoid sinuses would cause pain around your temples or even in your ear.

Other symptoms of a sinusitis can be:

- Blocked nose
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Bad breath
- Post nasal drip
- Frequent headaches
- Reduced sense of smell
- Stuffed sounding voice

Don’t fool around with sinus infections. They can be serious.

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