A sinus infection, also called sinusitis, refers to any type of inflammation of the sinuses and the sinus cavities. It can also refer to an infection located within the nasal passages. Symptoms of sinus infection can include:
- Sinus pain or pressure
located within the cavities and within the forehead. This pain may intensify if you suddenly bend or move your head or neck.
- Sinus drainage, which may drain out of your nose or down the back of your throat. This drainage can range in color from clear to yellow-green. In some cases, it may even contain residual blood.
- Upset stomach
can occur from swallowing the drainage.
- Sore throat
caused from an irritation of the sinuses draining down the back of your throat. You may also experience a sore throat because when you are stopped up it is difficult to breathe through your nose and you have to resort to breathing through your mouth, especially while sleeping.
can also be a symptom of a sinus infection. Often, the sinus infection can spread and block your inner ear.
Another symptom of sinus infections can be bad breath. Bacteria and germs are contained within the drainage that exits down the back of your throat. This can lead to foul-smelling breath. Chronic fatigue
is also a symptom of a sinus infection. Because you are not breathing well and because you are in pain, you become tired and run-down feeling.
For many people, fatigue is the worst symptom of sinusitis. A sinus infection accounts for most absences from work. It is estimated that if all the absences from work due to people suffering from a sinus infection were added together, it would amount to over four months of work being lost each year.
Causes of Sinus Infections
Sinus infections are commonly caused by an upper-respiratory infection. Allergens and air-borne bacteria are also common causes of sinus infections. Upper-respiratory infections are generally viral in nature and cause damage to the mucous membrane and the cilia, which are designed to protect the sinus cavities. Due to the damage sustained, the mucous membrane, in an effort to heal itself, often swells and thickens.
This swelling leads to an obstruction of the sinus passages and allows bacteria and irritants to become trapped within the nasal passages and within the sinus cavities. Hay fever, influenza, also known as "the flu," and the common cold can also lead to inflammation of the mucous membranes and cause a sinus infection.
Fungal infections, such as that caused by black mold, which can hide within the walls of an office building or home, can lead to sinus infections. Taking a prescribed antibiotic can also lead to a fungal infection of the sinus cavities.
People who suffer from GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, may also find themselves suffering from an extraordinary amount of sinus infections. This is because in severe cases of GERD, the acid can actually back so far into the throat that it backs into the sinus cavities, causing an inflammation of the mucous membranes.