March 01, 2020

Sinus problems

Pressure relief

Most sinus problems are infection-related and go away without antibiotics. But not always. Antibiotics, other therapies or even surgery can be valid options once the cause of sinus problems is known.

Sinus inflammation

You've had your share of head colds, but this is different. The sneezing, nasal drainage and coughing are familiar. What's different — and worse — is the intense pressure you feel, like your face is a balloon filling with air. You have headaches that come and go, you're low on energy, and it's a struggle to go about your day.

You likely have inflammation of the sinuses, a condition called sinusitis or rhinosinusitis. It's estimated to affect 1 in 8 adults in the U.S. each year.

It's unpleasant, and the initial illness is typically caused by a viral infection. The congestion usually goes away within a week to 10 days as the body fights off the virus. However, sinus congestion and a feeling of sickness can linger or worsen, sometimes due to the development of a bacterial infection.

Stalled passage

Your sinuses are a network of airfilled cavities in the bones around your nose. One pair of these chambers sits on each side of your nostrils. Another is at the bridge of your nose between your eyes, and a third pair is above your eyes near your eyebrows. A final pair sits further back from your nose, roughly on your cheekbones.

The sinuses make mucus, which flows into your nasal passages to clean, protect and moisturize them. The linings inside of your sinuses have little hairs (cilia) that are constantly sweeping the mucus through small openings (ostia) that drain into your nose and throat.

Sinus trouble typically begins when the...