Is it sinusitis?
Consistent congestion can mean serious sinus troubles: allergists urge those with sinus problems to recognize and seek treatment for the symptoms of sinusitis.
Have you ever had cold symptoms that lasted more than seven days? If so, chances are you may have had acute sinusitis, an inflammation of the nasal sinuses. The common cold is the most frequent cause of acute sinusitis, and as cold and flu season approaches, cases of the common cold will increase. Doctors agree many people fail to recognize and treat sinusitis, leading to missed school and work days every year. If left untreated, sinusitis can persist(sometimes for years) and lead to other complications.
Sinusitis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the nasal sinuses-the hollow cavities found within the cheek bones and near the eyes. The inflammation is usually triggered by inadequate draining due to allergies, infections or structural problems of the nose such as narrow drainage passages or a deviated septum. Sinuses help warm, moisten and filter the air in the nasal cavity and also add resonance to certain sounds. The three major signs indicating sinusitis are listed below. If you recognize a symptom in yourself or your child, see your GP for a proper examination and diagnosis.
- Your cold has lasted more than seven days and is accompanied by cough, fever, headache, toothache, facial pain, green or grey nasal drainage, or post-nasal drip.
- You have lost your sense of smell and taste and have bad breath accompanied by chronic congestion.
- In children, increased irritability and vomiting occurs with gagging on mucus and/or a prolonged cough.
Many people think it is normal to always be a little congested, and this simply isn't true. Parents should know that although children are prone to common colds, consistent congestion with a cough that lasts for more than 7-10 days may reflect a sinus problem and warrants a visit to the doctor. Children develop sinusitis after about 10 percent of colds, and most children get about six colds each year.
Sinusitis is treated with antibiotics. Decongestants, mucolytics and corticosteroid nasal sprays are often useful adjunctive therapy. Doctors also recommend several non-drug treatments such as breathing in hot, moist air, applying hot packs to the face and washing the nasal cavities with buffered salt water. Endoscopic surgery to correct structural problems of the nose may be needed in more serious cases of chronic sinusitis.
Sinusitis can have adverse affects. More than half of adults say they suffer from sinus problems and the biggest effect on quality of life reported is disrupted sleep. Sinusitis has also been linked to asthma, a chronic lung disease characterized by coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing.
Untreated sinus problems are not only a serious health concern, but also lead to unnecessary sleepless nights and unproductive work days. The symptoms associated with sinusitis may make working or going to school nearly unbearable. People with acute sinusitis miss an average of four days of work each year.