So many of us suffer from chronic sinus infections and it has become a common affliction; especially in the winter season. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 30.8 million people in America suffer from chronic sinus problems.
It may seem that you have tried everything to get rid of your sinus infections; however, there are still many solutions that haven’t been tried yet and which can potentially permanently treat your chronic sinusitis. In this article, we will discuss about medical treatment, surgery and natural remedies for chronic sinus infections.
Understanding the Underlying Cause of Chronic Sinus Infections
Most often conservative measures are used first for treating sinusitis. First the underlying cause of the chronic sinusitis should be determined. Some of the causes of chronic suits infections can include: infections, inflammatory disorders, allergies and a combination of all the three.
Diagnosis of Chronic Sinus Infections (2)
For diagnosis of chronic sinusitis, the following can be done by your doctor:
- Assessing of the symptoms.
- Testing with special tools to look into the nose and sinus passages is done.
- Imaging tests to visualize the sinuses clearly.
- Other tests will be done if the cause is not clear.
How To Cure Chronic Sinus Infections? (2)
After the diagnosis of the cause of chronic sinus infections is made, then the aim of treatment is:
- Treating the underlying cause of chronic sinus infection.
- Cutting down the inflammation, which prevents the draining from the sinus passages.
- All this is achieved by: Giving medications like corticosteroids and thinning or loosening of the nasal secretions.
Treating and Curing Chronic Sinusitis
Some of the medical treatments which are recommended according to the cause of chronic sinusitis are: (2)
- Antibiotics: (5) The right antibiotics prescribed according to the causative pathogen helps in fighting the chronic sinus infection.
- Intranasal Corticosteroids: (5) These help in decreasing the inflammation occurring in the nasal passages and also help in thinning of the mucus, so it can pass easily from the nose and breathing is made easier.
- Decongestants: (5) These are the medicines which help the infection by clearing the sinuses and thus decreasing the symptoms of nasal congestion. Decongestants are available in the form of oral medications or nasal sprays. However, nasal decongestant sprays should be used only for some days, as using them for a long time can have an opposite effect.
- Oral Corticosteroids: (5) These are steroids taken by the mouth and act like intranasal steroids, except they affect the entire body and have more side effects than intranasal corticosteroids. For chronic infections, such as chronic sinusitis, short-term oral corticosteroids are usually prescribed; especially if these infections are not responding to antibiotics, because oral steroids have more side effects than nasal ones.
- Saline Irrigation: (5) This is a simple method for relieving the symptoms of chronic sinusitis. It is an economic method to thin the nasal secretions, as the thinner secretions easily drain out of the nasal passages resulting in reduction in symptoms of chronic sinus infection.
- Immunotherapy: Patients can have chronic sinus infection because of an immunodeficiency-related problem, such as C4 deficiency and IgA deficiency. Treatment for this type of chronic sinus infection consists of immunotherapy treatments, such as intravenous immunoglobulin to increase the immunity of the body so it can fight inflammation and infection better.
According to the journal of American Family Physician, chronic sinusitis is considered an inflammatory condition by many physicians. This is the reason they commonly prescribe corticosteroids, which are anti-inflammatory medications.
Surgery for Curing Chronic Sinus Infections
If medical treatment does not help in clearing the chronic sinusitis, then surgery is recommended. There are many surgical procedures to increase the size of the sinus cavities so that drainage and breathing becomes easier. Previously, sinus surgeries meant removal of tissue and bone. Now thanks to the recent developments in the medical field, all this is not needed in a sinus surgery.
- Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS): (2) This is a surgical approach, which is done for treating chronic sinus infection. First an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon will visualize and assess the internal structures of the nose using a specialized tool, which has a lighted camera at its end. After this, small instruments are used to excise the excess tissue, nasal cysts or polyps so that the sinuses are open and wide. This procedure is done under anesthesia.
- Balloon Sinuplasty: (3, 4) Balloon sinuplasty has been used by the doctors as a surgical approach for treating chronic sinus infection in America since 2004. First, a balloon-tipped catheter is inserted into the sinus passages and then with the help of imaging, the surgeon ensures that the catheter has reached the correct location and slowly starts to inflate the balloon. The inflation of the balloon will widen the sinus passages and after this has been achieved, the balloon is deflated and the catheter is removed. As there is zero cutting or removing of tissue or bones, the recovery time is often less with balloon sinuplasty.
It is to be born in mind that not all patients suffering from chronic sinus infection are eligible candidates for this procedure. If there are polyps or cysts that are blocking the sinus passages, then this surgery is not for you.
Post Surgery for Chronic Sinusitis
Even after opting for surgery for treating chronic sinus infection, medications still need to be used for reducing the symptoms and for preventing the recurrence of chronic sinusitis. Around 75% of patients who do not respond to medical treatment experience symptom relief with surgery in chronic sinusitis.(2)
Natural Remedies for Chronic Sinus Infections
There are many effective natural remedies, which can help in reducing the symptoms of chronic sinus infection if not completely curing them. Some of these are:
- Lots of Fluids Throughout the Day: Drinking lot of water and other fluids helps in thinning the mucus, and thin mucus can easily drain from the sinus passages. One indication of sufficient water intake is the pale yellow color of urine.
- Make Use of Neti Pot: Instead of saline nose sprays, a neti pot can also be used, which is easily available in the market as well as online. A neti pot resembles small tea pot with a long spout. For using this, fill it with sterile water, place the spout within one nostril and start pouring the water such that it comes out the other nostril.
- Using Warm Compresses: Application of warm compresses to the sinuses helps in decreasing the swelling of the facial tissues, as well as in opening of the sinuses, which both help in breathing easier.
- Rest: Along with medications, surgery and home remedies to beat chronic sinusitis and to alleviate its symptoms, rest is very important. It is extremely important to get the right amount of sleep at night to ensure maximum healing of the body and strengthening of the immune system.
Prevention of Sinus Infections
One should take steps such that there is always drainage from nasal passages and they are clean so as to prevent sinus infections. Some of the habits which can help prevent sinus infections are:
- Always take the right medications as advised by your doctor to treat the seasonal allergies. Some of the over-the-counter medications for allergy are cetirizine and loratadine.
- Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, more so after coming in contact with sick people.
- If you’re prone to chronic sinus infections then it is highly recommended to do nasal irrigation once a day.
- Quit smoking and also avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible.
- Avoid staying in dry air and use steam inhalation or take warm showers or use humidifiers to keep the air moist. Doing this helps in preventing drying out of your nasal passages.
Chronic sinus infection greatly affects the quality of life. However, the good news is that with the right treatment of medications, and surgery if needed, one can find relief permanently from the symptoms of chronic sinusitis.