Sinusitis describes inflammation of the sinus mucous membranes around the nose. It often results from cold or persistent rhinitis caused by viruses or bacteria. Treatment of sinusitis is carried out both medically and surgically. Operations are indicated only in severe cases, with anatomical abnormalities and chronic courses.
The sinuses are little cavities lined with mucous membranes between the facial bones. In total, humans have eight sinuses (four pairs). They produce mucus that cleans the nasal cavity. Inflammation of the sinuses' mucous membranes is called sinusitis.
It is one of the most common upper respiratory infections. In addition, according to statistics, approximately 20% of the population suffers sinus inflammation yearly.
The disorder can affect not only individual sinuses but the entire sinus complex, occurring as a primary disease and secondary as a symptom of another respiratory infection (e.g. bronchitis). Often the condition is preceded by a sore throat, tonsilitis or a common cold; thus, pathogens enter the sinuses.
There are many types of sinusitis, depending on the primary cause, the site of infection, and the duration of the illness. Depending on the causes, ENT doctors distinguish the following types: viral, bacterial, allergic, fungal, and traumatic.
According to the disease duration, doctors determine the forms:
- Acute sinusitis (lasts 7-10 days) is usually viral and develops from simple rhinitis (runny nose). The entry of microorganisms into the sinuses leads to rapid suppuration.
- Chronic sinusitis (more than three months) usually occurs due to prolonged acute sinusitis.
- Purulent can be a complication of chronic rhinitis, deformity of the nasal septum, and neglected caries.
- Productive when cysts and polyps appear in the nose.
Sinusitis can be dangerous because it can lead to complications:
Causes of sinusitis
As a rule, a long runny nose leads to inflammation of the paranasal sinuses in most cases. Causes of sinusitis are the penetration into the sinuses of pathogens:
- Allergens (pollen, wool). Therefore, prolonged allergic rhinitis is considered a possible reason for chronic sinusitis.
Doctors also identify favourable factors for disease development:
- Anatomical features of the nose: curved nasal septum, constriction in the nose;
- Diseases of the immune system;
- Allergic oedema of the mucous membrane;
- Respiratory illnesses;
- Nasal polyps or bumps;
- Swimming in polluted lakes and rivers;
Acute sinusitis has typical symptoms such as:
- Runny nose;
Subsequently, the nose becomes blocked, and there is a feeling of pressure in the affected sinuses. Sinus pain is aggravated by bending over or climbing stairs. Due to swelling of the mucous membranes, there are difficulties in nasal breathing and a temporary loss of smell and taste.
Chronic sinusitis presents with much milder signs, so there is no pain in many cases. In addition to a duration of several months, chronic sinusitis is accompanied by the following complaints:
- Chronic runny nose, incredibly shortly after rising;
- Unilateral violation of nasal breathing;
- The flow of mucus in the throat;
- Decreased sense of smell.
How is sinusitis diagnosed?
The diagnosis of sinusitis is made by ENT doctors based on typical symptoms and examinations. The doctor can confirm the diagnosis by tapping on the sinuses, which causes severe pain.
In some cases, imaging can be required if the diagnosis is still unclear or there are signs of complications. Ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) shows the degree of swelling of the mucous membrane and the presence of pus.
The doctor may also prescribe an endoscopic examination of the paranasal sinuses to confirm the diagnosis. To do this, the otolaryngologist inserts an endoscope (thin tube) into the nasal cavity. In the end, a camera shows the entrance to the paranasal sinuses and the exit point of the mucus. In addition, as part of such endoscopy, a puncture of the affected sinus can be performed. Later, doctors examine the resulting slime to find out the pathogen.
If chronic sinusitis is suspected, an allergy test may be helpful.
Treatment options for sinus infection
Sinusitis is treated in two ways: conservative (with the help of drugs) and surgically.
In the case of drug therapy, doctors prescribe medications to relieve symptoms, fight pathogens, and drain mucus. Usually, these are nasal sprays with hormones and decongestants. In cases of severe pain, painkillers and drugs that reduce fever are prescribed. If the cause is allergic, antihistamines make sense. Since antibiotics cannot affect a viral infection, they are only indicated for bacterial sinusitis.
Nose and sinus surgery only makes sense if conservative treatment has not been successful. There are several types of operations:
- Puncture and unplugging of the sinuses from mucus or pus;
- Enlargement of the passages of the sinuses;
- Straightening of the nasal septum;
- Removal of polyps.
Home remedies, such as nasal rinses and saltwater inhalations, often also help clear up stuck-on mucus in chronic sinusitis.
What to expect with sinusitis?
As a rule, sinusitis has a favourable prognosis. Acute type heals within 1-2 weeks. The chronic form, with proper and timely treatment, is well healed.
Can I treat sinusitis without surgery?
Yes. Doctors recommend nasal sprays to relieve swelling and clear mucus. These can be decongestants, antihistamines, or saltwater sprays. For long-term and chronic bacterial sinusitis, antibiotics are effective.
Is sinusitis surgery effective?
Yes. If medical treatment is ineffective, doctors resort to operations. Sinusitis surgery has a success rate of 85-90%. Most patients feel immediate relief; others must wait for days or weeks.
How to find an ENT clinic abroad for sinusitis treatment?
Don't waste your valuable time. Please call or fill out the application form on the AiroMedical platform. A manager will contact you as soon as possible, answer all your questions and recommend the best clinic abroad for sinus treatment.
What medical reports do I need to get an answer from a hospital abroad?
If you have CT images of your sinuses, you can provide them. You can also make a list of medications you take. As a rule, foreign doctors conduct independent diagnostics to prescribe the correct treatment.
Can I treat recurrent sinus infections abroad?
Yes. Many patients with recurrent sinusitis are treated abroad. It has many advantages, including rapid diagnosis using modern devices, the latest treatment options with new generations of drugs and innovative endoscopic surgery.
Where can I get Sinusitis treatment?
What are the best clinics for Sinusitis treatment?
Who are the best doctors for Sinusitis?
Prof. Dr. med. Barbara Wollenberg from University Hospital rechts der Isar Munich
Prof. Dr. Jordi Coromina from Teknon Medical Centre Barcelona
Prof. Dr. med. Markus Suckfull from Academic Hospital Martha-Maria Munich
Prof. Dr. med. Markus Jungehulsing from MEOCLINIC Berlin
Prof. Dr. Sami Katircioglu from Memorial Sisli Hospital Istanbul