Nearly 40 million people in the United States are affected by sinus infection annually, both acute (temporary) and chronic sinus infection.
In a nutshell, the sinuses are not directly the cause of the infection as they are simply passageways or cavities present in the forehead and behind the eyes and cheekbones. The sinuses become a problem when the tissue surrounding them become swollen and they become blocked.
Sinus Infection Types
An acute sinus infection is a short-term infection that typically occurs due to a common cold, which usually only persists up to 3-4 weeks. Chronic sinusitis is more severe, harder to treat, and has a longer recovery period.
Subacute sinus infection falls in between acute and chronic sinusitis and usually persisting for up to 3 months. Recurrent sinusitis, on the other hand, refers to when one experiences a sinus infection numerous times throughout the year.
What Causes Sinus Infections?
There are some common sinus infection triggers. A cold, for instance, can bring about a case of acute sinus infection. Most people who experience multiple sinus infections per year (recurrent sinusitis) tend to be more likely to develop chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis can also be triggered by some physiological irregularities, respiratory infections/diseases, or other underlying conditions.
Some people have nasal polyps, which are tissue growths that cause nasal blockage and sinus inflammation. A deviated septum can also lead to an occurrence of an infection by also blocking passageways of the sinuses. Some people are also born with narrower than usual sinus cavities that can eventually result in chronic sinusitis.
Respiratory Infections and Diseases
Chronic respiratory conditions and also infections put one at a higher risk of sinusitis. A cold, hay fever, as well as other allergies that affect the respiratory system, can also impact mucus flow in the cavities, cause blockage and inflammation, leading to a sinus infection.
Certain conditions can prompt the development of a sinus infection or lead to complications without proper care and treatment such as gastroesophageal reflux and cystic fibrosis. Infections and diseases that take a massive toll on the immune system such as HIV also increase the risk of a chronic infection as the immune system is already weakened and unable to function properly.
Reducing inflammation and keeping your allergies under control if you are prone to sinus infections are key. Drinking lots of water; using nasal sprays for relief; using a neti pot with saline; having a humidifier, and avoiding/treating your allergies are some important tips to prevent sinus infections.
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