The paranasal sinuses are air-filled spaces in the bones of the skull that connect to the nasal cavity. They are lined by specialized cells called mucosa. The sinuses require the free flow of gases and secretions into the nose. Sometimes the pathways that connect the sinuses to the nose become blocked and the mucosa becomes unhealthy. The sinuses get infected and filled with secretions, pus, and polyps. Pressure builds up and can result in pain. Acute sinusitis is a condition characterized by fever, severe facial pain and unpleasant mucous from the nose.
Nasal polyps are soft, painless, noncancerous growths on the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses. They form as a result of chronic inflammation due to recurring infection such as chronic sinusitis, allergies or immune disorders.
Small nasal polyps may not cause symptoms. Larger growths or groups of nasal polyps can block your nasal passages or lead to breathing problems, an altered sense of smell and frequent infections. Other signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis with nasal polyps include a runny nose, postnasal drip, facial pain or a headache, persistent stuffiness, snoring or pain in your upper teeth.
Sinusitis may be acute or chronic:
- Acute sinusitis – occurs due to an attack of the common cold or flu. It develops quickly and lasts for around 12 weeks.
- Chronic sinusitis – develops late and the symptoms last for more than 12 weeks.
There are four pairs of sinuses in the body i.e. frontal sinuses, ethmoid sinuses, sphenoid sinuses and maxillary sinuses. The most commonly affected sinuses are maxillary.
There are numerous causes that make your sinuses inflamed or blocked and these are:
- Tooth infection – The infective pathogens travel through the sinuses and cause an infection in the sinuses.
- Viral infections – Common cold or flu may spread the infection from the upper air way to cause inflammation in the sinuses.
- Allergies such as rhinitis, asthma, and hay fever may predispose to the development of sinusitis.
- Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition in which there is thick mucus production that blocks the air ways and makes the body more prone to infection.
- Structural problems in the nose predispose to the development of sinusitis.