One of the most typical ear, nose, and throat issues people face is sinusitis, also known as sinus inflammation. Based on the statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 28.9 million adults are diagnosed with sinusitis each year.
What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is the inflammation of sinuses (the hollow air spaces in the bones of the skull). When sinus cavities become inflamed, you may experience a variety of symptoms like pain or nasal congestion. Many people also experience postnasal drainage and a runny nose that can sometimes become discolored and thick.
Pathophysiology of Sinusitis and Risk Factors
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal passage, tissue lining, and sinuses. The most common causes of this are viral infections such as rhino-pharyngitis or allergic reactions. Both of these can trigger the immune system leading to mucosal edema in the upper respiratory tract.
While symptoms can be similar, the cause of each type is distinct:
- Acute Bacterial/Purulent (ABP) Sinusitis - This occurs when bacteria enter through the eustachian tubes and settle in the sinus cavity.
- Acute Non-Purulent Sinusitis - Also called uncomplicated rhinosinusitis, this occurs when bacterial growth is present but does not cause a purulent discharge.
- Chronic or Non-Purulent (CNP) Sinusitis - This is an ongoing condition that does not resolve even after the initial infection heals.
- Allergic (A) or Vasomotor Sinusitis - This is due to an allergic reaction to specific triggers such as pollens, plants, or pet dander.
- Fungal Sinusitis - Fungi thrive in warm, moist places, which is why they often infect the feet and nails. This condition results from the overgrowth of fungi in the sinuses.
While this is a very common condition most people will experience one or more times in their lives, it has several risk factors, which include:
- Tobacco smoking
- Prolonged intake of aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Overuse of nasal sprays or saline solution
- Nasal and dental infections
- Traumatic injuries to the nose and sinuses
- Pollen-induced allergic reactions
- A deviated nasal septum