Our sinus cavities are air filled passages in the skull situated behind the nose, eyes, cheeks and forehead. These cavities are lined with a mucous secreting membrane and they are connected to the space behind the nose, the nasal cavity, by a series of narrow channels.
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus cavities. It can be either acute, with a rapid onset and equally rapid improvement, or chronic, that is, long term. Children under 5 years old are rarely affected by sinusitis as their sinuses small, not being fully developed. So snoring in young children is almost always caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
Any inflammation of the nasal cavity and airways will cause snoring and sinusitis causes such inflammation.
Causes of Sinus Infections
The most common cause of sinusitis is a viral infection, often simply the common cold. The channels connecting the nose and the sinuses become blocked, mucous is unable to drain from the sinuses and so collects and becomes infected.
Blockage of the sinus channels is more likely to occur if other conditions are present such as nasal polyps or allergic rhinitis. For those who have had the misfortune to reshape their nose through accident or misadventure the problem may be worse because of a deviated nasal septum (the cartilage wall that divides the nostrils).
Those who have the genetic condition cystic fibrosis also tend to be more prone to developing sinusitis.
The symptoms of sinusitis are usually easy to spot:
- Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ headache
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ tenderness around the face and a feeling of heaviness and pain in facial tissues when leaning down
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ discoloured nasal discharge
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ blocked nose
Often sinusitis will clear up without medical intervention and the snoring problem eases as the inflammation and infection reduces.
Over the counter painkillers and decongestants may alleviate symptoms as will steam inhalation. If sinusitis persists for more than 3 days medical advice should be sought.
If the sinuses are badly affected your doctor may well prescribe a course of antibiotics. If the problem of sinusitis is persistent or recurrent the doctor may undertake further tests to check for other health conditions that may be causing the blockage to the drainage channels between the nasal and sinus cavities. These tests will be checking for polyps or possibly even tumours.
Because of the nature of the anatomy of the nose and sinuses, if an infection sets in and is not treated promptly it can persist. The bacteria causing the infection have many places to hide and lurk within the warm moist atmosphere of the sinus cavities and it is not unusual to experience a recurrence of the condition once it has occurred.
Sinusitis needs to be treated promptly and appropriately, not just to cure the problem of snoring but also to kill the infection before it has a chance to colonize the sinuses.