Sunday, January 25, 2009

When Good Sinuses Go Bad

What about that cold that won't go away? A cold virus can:

- damage the delicate cilia so that mucus is not swept away.
- cause the mucous lining of the nose to become swollen, which narrows and blocks the small opening from the sinuses into the nose.
- lead to the production of more mucus, which is often thicker and stickier, making it harder to flow out of the sinuses.

When the tiny openings that drain the sinuses get blocked, mucus becomes trapped in the sinuses. Like water in a stagnant pond, it makes a good home for bacteria, viruses, or fungi to grow.

If a cold lasts for more than 10 to 14 days (sometimes you may have a low-grade
fever), you may have sinusitis (say: syne-yuh-sy-tus). This means an infection of the sinuses. Sinusitis is a pretty common infection; in fact, close to 37 million people in the United States have sinusitis each year.

Acute sinusitis may be diagnosed when a cold lasts more than 10 to 14 days. Chronic sinusitis means a person has had symptoms for more than 3 months. Symptoms may be similar to acute sinusitis, but typically are less severe and not associated with fever.

In either case, symptoms may include:

- fever.
- persistent nasal discharge that often is yellow or green (this alone doesn't always mean you have a sinus infection).
- daytime cough (your cough may be worse at night).
- puffy eyes, especially in the morning.
- bad breath.

Less often, a kid could have headache or pain behind the eyes, forehead, and cheeks.