Every year, one out of every 10 people develops a sinus infection severe enough to seek medical treatment. Dr. Charles Song and Dr. Andrew Wong at the Song Institute of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology have extensive experience in the evaluation and treatment of sinus infections. Their unique understanding of the relationship between your allergies and sinusitis allows a more comprehensive assessment and effective management. If you suffer from nasal congestion, facial pain, or nasal discharge, call our office in Manhattan Beach, California, or book an appointment online.
Your sinuses are hollow, air-filled cavities within your skull, situated around your eyes and your nose. Specifically, the maxillary sinuses are within your cheeks below your eyes. The ethmoid sinuses course between your eyes, and the frontal sinuses lie above the eyes within your forehead. They’re lined with soft tissue called mucosa which, as the name suggests, produces mucus that moisturizes the inside of your nose and protects it from dust, dirt, and microorganisms.
To stay healthy, the single tiny channel that connects the network of sinuses to your nose must stay open, so mucus can freely flow out of the sinus and into your nose.
A sinus infection, or sinusitis, develops when viruses or bacteria enter the sinus cavities, multiply, and cause swelling and inflammation. As a result, the swelling can block the drainage channel causing further mucus buildup, increased pressure, and significant discomfort.
Patients with allergic rhinitis have an increased risk of sinus infection because of the underlying nasal mucosal inflammation. Most sinus infections arise from viral upper respiratory tract infections (common colds), and bacterial infections are a less-common complication. In many cases, it’s difficult to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections.
We take into account many factors when evaluating each patient’s sinus infection. Your history of infections, the degree of severity, history of allergic rhinitis, prior surgeries, and asthma all play a role in determining how to treat your sinus infection, including whether or not to prescribe antibiotics.
The classification of sinusitis, or rhinosinusitis, is based on the duration of symptoms. The most basic classifications are acute and chronic. Acute rhinosinusitis is defined as having symptoms for less than four weeks. When symptoms persist for 12 weeks or longer, it’s considered chronic rhinosinusitis. Each type of sinusitis is evaluated and managed in a distinct fashion.
All classifications of sinusitis share similar symptoms:
You may also experience:
The structures of your nose, mouth, and inner ear are interconnected. The sinuses communicate with your nose, while the nose and ear each connect to your throat. This means that health problems in one can easily affect the other structures.
Nasal polyps are soft, noncancerous growths that develop on the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses. The exact cause is unknown, but they’re commonly found in patients suffering from asthma, allergies, recurrent or chronic sinus disease, and immune disorders. When the polyps grow large enough to obstruct your nasal passages, they can predispose you to sinus infections.
Your adenoids are masses of lymphoid tissue located at the back of your nasal cavity, in the roof of your nasopharynx (where your nose blends into your throat). Infections in the adenoid tissue can easily spread to the nasal cavity and into the sinuses.
The middle ear connects with your nose and throat through the Eustachian tube. If you develop a middle ear infection, otherwise known as otitis media, the infection may easily spread into the sinuses. The reverse is also true, where an initial sinus infection spreads to the middle ear.
Rhinoscopy is a procedure performed to assess your nasal cavity. Your doctor numbs the lining of your nose, then gently inserts a rhinoscope into your nose. A rhinoscope is a device with a thin fiber optic camera which provides a close-up view of your nasal anatomy. This procedure allows your doctor to detect inflammation, polyps, or other anatomical abnormalities that may be contributing to a sinus infection.
If you have the symptoms of a sinus infection, please call the Song Institute of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology or use online booking to schedule an appointment.