The sinuses are cavities in the facial portion of the skull. They are important for decreasing the weight of the skull and contribute to respiratory function. They are lined by mucosa. There are paired frontal sinuses, paired maxillary and ethmoid sinuses and a single sphenoid sinus. The mastoid process behind the ear is somewhat of a similar structure. Sinusitis is the inflammation or infection of these sinuses. It develops most frequently in the Maxillary sinuses (under the cheeks) and the ethmoid sinuses (on the inner part of the eyes). Occasionally, sinus infections can penetrate the bone and form osteomyelitis, or a bone infection. Polyps, or balloon- like growths can develop in the sinuses from chronic infection. The sinuses can become filled with mucus or pus and may not drain adequately. Rarely, a sinus infection can penetrate the bone and involve the brain or the lining of the brain..
Causes of Sinus Infection
The initial inflammation of the sinus lining, or mucosa, may occur with a cold or other respiratory infection. A secondary bacterial infection may develop in the sinus, particularly if there is obstruction of the drainage of the sinus. Chronic irritation from allergies and smoking can increase the risk of developing sinus infection.
Signs and Symptoms of Sinus Infection
Sinusitis will initially produce nasal congestion with green-yellow (sometimes blood-tinged) discharge. Pain or a sensation of pressure will develop in the head, the cheek or behind the eye. The discomfort may worsen in the morning or when bending forward. Fever may develop and redness and tenderness may develop in the skin overlying the infected sinus. Chronic infections lead to chronic pain. Involvement of the brain can lead to stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, seizures and weakness.
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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