The nose and sinuses work together as central system to many symptoms in the head and neck because of their anatomic location. The sinuses, eyes, and ears all drain into the nose. Inflammation in the back of the nose may not affect breathing but can lead to a variety of conditions including poor sinus circulation, headache, watery eyes or dizziness.
There are four paired paranasal sinuses: maxillary, ethmoid, frontal and sphenoid. The maxillary sinuses are located in the cheek area and can cause facial pain that may radiate to the teeth. Theethmoid sinuses are located between the eyes and can cause pain that radiates to the eye area. The frontal sinuses are located in the forehead and can cause frontal headaches and pressure. Thesphenoid sinuses are located in the center of the skull and can cause pain radiating to the top and back of the head.
Sinus disease has become more common over the years because of a number of contributing factors. Underlying allergies, smoking, untreated nasal fractures, environmental irritants and antibiotic resistance are among the most common to blame. Bacteria may hide in what are called “biofilms” in the sinuses of patients with chronic sinusitis. Biofilms are an extracellular gelatinous byproduct that walls off (protects) the bacteria within the sinus cavity, preventing antibiotics from reaching them.
Sinusitis In Depth
by Monica Tadros, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Sinusitis is caused by infections that enduse inflammation in the sinuses. Microorganisms in the form of viruses, bacteria or fungus may grow within a sinus and develop inflammation and blockage of the opening where the sinus is suppose to drain. This results in pressure and retained fluid in the sinuses called an acute sinus infection.
Symptoms may include sinus headache, facial pain, nasal drainage, nasal stuffiness and facial pressure. Occasionally this may be accompanied by fever, sore throat or cough. When the eyes fail to drain into the nose, excessive tearing may occur. When the middle ears fail to drain into the nose, ear pressure and pain can occur.
When symptoms last longer than one week, a bacterial infection should be suspected. Bacterial sinus infections more commonly occur in susceptible individuals with abnormal sinus tissue or blocked anatomy and unlike viral infections are generally not contagious.
Early treatment of sinus symptoms with decongestants, mucolytics and sinus irrigation may help prevent progression of a sinus infection.
Who is at risk for Chronic Sinusitis and How Does the Disease Progress?
Recurrent sinus infections should be investigated to prevent overgrowth (hyperplasia) of the sinus lining or polyps that may permanently obstruct sinus drainage.
Rarely, complications of a sinus infection include bacterial meningitis, brain abscess, orbital cellulitis and invasive fungal disease.