Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects more than 17 million Americans. Coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing characterize asthma. If you have asthma, you can minimize your symp¬toms by avoiding the factors that trigger them and with an effective management and treatment plan. Allergic rhinitis, or “hay fever” is considered a risk factor in developing asthma; up to 78% of people with asthma also have allergic rhinitis.
Sinusitis, which is common in the winter, may last for months or years if inadequately treated. Sinusitis can affect the nose, eyes, or middle ear, and may be indicated by profuse, thick, colored nasal drainage, bad-tasting post-nasal drip, cough, congestion and headache. Symptoms may also include a plugged-up nose, a feeling of facial swelling, tooth¬ache, constant tiredness, and occasionally, a fever.
Types and Causes of Sinusitis
There are two types of sinusi¬tis: Acute sinusitis, which is often caused by a bacterial infection and visually develops as a complication five to ten days after the first symptoms of a viral respiratory infection such as the common cold. Chronic sinusitis, which also may he caused by bacterial infection, but is more often a chronic inflammatory disorder similar to bronchial asthma.
Although colds are the most common cause of acute sinusitis, those with allergies may also be predisposed to develop sinusitis. Allergies can trigger inflammation of the sinuses and nasal mucous linings. This inflammation prevents the sinus cavities from clearing out bacteria, and increases your chances of developing secondary bacterial sinusitis.
Structural problems in the nose, such as narrow drainage passages, tumors or polyps, or a deviated nasal septum may be another cause of sinusitis. Surgery is sometimes needed to correct these problems. Many patients with recurring or chronic sinusitis have more than one factor that predisposes them to infec¬tion. So, addressing only one factor may not be sufficient.
Even if symptoms seem to be localized to the sinuses, the sinuses are not always infected. To make a correct diagnosis, some tests, if indicated will be ordered. These tests can include allergy testing, sinus X-ray, CT scans of the sinus and endoscopic examination of the sinus.
Sinus infections generally require a combination of medications. In addition to antibiotics, when the sinusitis is caused by bacterial infection, decongestant, a mucus-thinning medicine or a cortisone-like nasal spray will be prescribed. Antihistamines, Cromolyn and topical steroid nasal sprays help control allergic inflammation.
For people with allergies, long-term treatment to control and reduce allergic symptoms can also be effective in preventing the development of sinusitis. This treatment may include immuno¬therapy (also called “allergy shots”), anti-inflammatory medications, decongestants, and environmental control measures.
Several non-drug treatments can also be helpful. These include breathing in hot, moist air, applying hot packs and washing the nasal cavities with salt water (Sinus irrigation).