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Jamaica Scientific Research Institute

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Inflammation of the Nasal sinuses (Sinusitis)

The sinuses are hollow, air-filled spaces in the skull and specifically the bones surrounding the nose (behind the forehead, nasal bones,cheeks, and eyes). Healthy sinuses contain no bacteria or other germs. Usually,mucus is able to drain out and air is able to circulate. 

Sinusitis or Rhinosinusitis is inflammation in one or more of the paranasal sinuses. Inflammation typically occurs when the mucous membranes that line the nose and sinuses become irritated by a cold,allergy, pollution, or disease causing organisms. The irritation stimulates the mucous glands to secrete more mucus than usual to dilute and trap the exogenous matter, but at the same time, the irritation also slows the natural cleaning mechanism that would sweep the mucous out. Mucous therefore gets backed up and trapped in the sinuses, blocking the openings and therefore creating an environment where they can easily become infected. Sinusitis has been increasing steadily over the last decade.

Sinusitis may be classified as either Acute or Chronic.

Acute Sinusitis 

  • Symptoms are present for 4weeks or less
  •  Most often caused by the common cold
  • Other triggers include bacteria, allergies and fungal infections
  • Treatment of acute sinusitis depends on the cause. In most cases, home remedies are all that's needed.However, persistent sinusitis can lead to serious infections and other complications.

Chronic Sinusitis

  • Symptoms present for longer than 3 months despite treatment
  • May be caused by an bacterial, fungal or viral infection,but it can also be caused by growths in the sinuses (nasal polyps) or by a deviated nasal septum
  • Most commonly affects young and middle-aged adults, but it also can affect children


The symptoms of acute sinusitis include:

  • Bad breath or loss of smell
  • Cough, often worse at night
  • Fatigue and generally not feeling well
  • Fever
  • Headache -- pressure-like pain,pain behind the eyes, toothache, or tenderness of the face
  • Nasal stuffiness and discharge of a thick,yellow or greenish discharge from the nose or down the back of the throat
  • Sore throat and postnasal drip

Symptoms of chronic sinusitis are the same as those of acute sinusitis, except they last longer and often cause more significant fatigue. Fever isn't a common sign of chronic sinusitis though.

Risk Factors

  • Allergies
  • Tooth infection
  • Abnormal nasal passage including as a deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps, tumors or large adenoids
  • Cystic fibrosis, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or certain immune system disorders
  • Regular exposure to pollutants and more so, air pollutants such as smoke including cigarette smoke
  • Changes in altitude (flying or scuba diving)


Acute and chronic sinusitis can be caused by:

  • Infection from viruses, fungi or bacteria
  • Abnormal nasal passage including as a deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps, tumors or large adenoids
  • Enlarged or infected adenoids in children. Adenoids are located in the upper back part of the throat.
  • Other medical conditions. The complications of Cystic fibrosis, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or Immune system disorders may result in blocked sinuses or an increased risk of infection.

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For further reading and research into the causes, nature and risk factors of Sinusitis, you may visit the links below, among others.

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