Sunday, January 15, 2006


Sinusitis is inflammation of one or more of the sinuses. Since the paranasal sinuses are directly continuous portions of the upper respiratory tract, they are usually involved in infections originating there. Sinusitis is common among the elderly and other adults. Any anatomic or physiologic feature that obstructs free drainage from the sinuses can lead to infection. Other causes are tooth infections, nasal polyps, allergy, smoke, and air pollutants.
Symptoms of sinusitis include a headache over the affected sinus, nasal discharge, fever, sore throat, dizziness, and sometimes difficulty in breathing.
Treatment includes decongestion of the nasal mucosa by analgesics and by local applications of heat. Vasoconstrictor medication (a drug that causes narrowing of blood vessels) is better given systemically by mouth early in the course of acute sinusitis rather than locally as nose drops. A constant, humidified environment and bed rest are also important to speedy recovery. After initial inflammation and edema have partially subsided, displacement irrigation may be used to clear the sinuses of debris.
The use of an air conditioner or humidifier can reduce the number and severity of sinus attacks. Avoiding irritants such as dust and smoke may also be helpful. Occasionally a change in climate may be necessary to avoid conditions known to precipitate sinus attacks.
Ballenger, J. J. Diseases of the Nose, Throat, Ear, Head and Neck, 13th ed. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1985.
Steinberg, F. U. Care of the Geriatric Patient, 6th ed. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Co., 1983.


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