What is sinusitis? Understand how the disease affects the body

The sinusitis or rhinosinusitis (clinical term more appropriate), is characterized by  inflammation of the mucous membranes lining the sinuses of the sinuses , which are bony spaces around the nose, cheeks and eyes.

Inflammation can have different causes – allergic, infectious or immunological -, caused by a swelling that restricts the passage of nasal mucus – a fluid naturally produced in the region -, facilitating and promoting the proliferation of infectious agents.

In general, it is due to colds, flu, allergies and low immunity, which can cause symptoms such as  headache , runny nose and swollen face.

The vast majority of sinus infections are due to the Influenza virus   – responsible for the flu -, but infections by bacteria or fungi can also occur.

Read more:  H3N2: the new influenza virus. Know the symptoms, vaccine and more

Despite being considerably frequent, inflammation can compromise routine and activities, so that, even without complications, the discomfort and malaise are usually great.

When the condition lasts for up to 4 weeks, sinusitis is acute. External factors, such as pollution, cigarettes and allergenic agents can favor the manifestation of inflammation, which makes the disease recurrent in many patients. If the condition persists for more than 4 continuous weeks, it is characterized as chronic sinusitis.

Most patients who have a cold or flu , after recovering, present some alteration and accumulation of secretion in the sinuses. However, many conditions do not progress to sinusitis, as the body can eliminate mucus naturally.

But even when the inflammation manifests, the condition is, in general, quite simple and tends to resolve with the use of medications that facilitate the elimination of secretions. When the symptoms worsen or affect the patient more intensely, it is necessary to check if there is no bacterial infection, which may need  antibiotics .

The condition is listed on  ICD-10  under the codes  J01- Acute sinusitis and J32 – Chronic sinusitis .

Read more: What treatments are indicated for Sinusitis?

What are paranasal sinuses?

Paranasal sinuses, also called nasal sinuses or sinuses, are bilateral cavities located on the face of the skull – that is, if we draw a line right in the middle of our face, passing vertically through the nose, the cavities are symmetrical, observed in both sides – and are divided into 4:

  • Frontal sinus : located above the eyes;
  • Ethmoid sinus : they are small and numerous cavities (like holes) in the bone between the eye and the nose;
  • Sphenoid sinus : located inside the skull, at the height of the nose;
  • Maxillary sinus : located below the eyes, next to the nose.

It is important to differentiate the nasal cavity from the paranasal cavities. While the first is larger and extends from the nostril to the pharynx (basically understood as the nose), the paranasals are small tunnels close to the nose.

The breasts are occupied by air (pneumatic cavities) and have a lining full of blood vessels and cilia, which are very similar to those we have in the eyes, but in microscopic sizes. Among the functions of the nasal cavities are:

  • Humidification and heating of breathed air;
  • Reduction of the skull weight;
  • Increased voice resonance;
  • Balance of intracranial pressures when there are variations in atmospheric pressure (dives, plane trips or high altitude climbs);
  • Impact absorption in cases of trauma (hollow materials absorb more impact than solid materials).

In addition, in the paranasal lining there is a constant production of mucus or secretion, which is responsible for the retention of foreign particles to the bodies – such as dust or dirt.

The cilia play an important role in directing these secretions out of the cavities, leading them to the throat to be eliminated through the airways.

Frames allergy or cold, for example, can cause  edema (swelling) of the nasal mucosa and increase secretions, which favors the blocking drainage of the sinuses leading to sinus congestion, which may progress to sinusitis.