The ongoing climatic changes have led to a rise in health issues in the country. But if it is a persistent cold that you are suffering from, you may need to worry…
Sinusitis – the new city disease
According to a recent study, it is estimated that 134 million (one in eight) Indians suffer from chronic sinusitis. The urban population is more prone to sinusitis mainly because of higher occupation and industrial air pollution in cities as compared to rural areas.
WHAT IS SINUSITIS?
Sinusitis is inflammation of the lining of the paranasal sinuses, also referred as rhinosinusitis (RS). It is dened as acute rhinosinusitis (ARS) if it lasts less than four weeks, and as chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) if it lasts for more than 12 weeks.
RS develops through the combination of environmental (air pollution) factors, structural problems in the nose and host immune function. Allergies, upper respiratory viral infection (the most common infectious cause for RS across all age groups), or other factors cause an underlying, vigorous inammation affecting the nose and paranasal sinuses leading to sinusitis. Recurrent episodes of RS occur in people with asthma, cystic brosis (a genetic disorder) and poor immune function (fungal sinus infections are more common). Increased level of air pollution in urban areas leads to high levels of Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Ozone (O3), Carbon Monoxide (CO), Ammonia (NH3) and Particulate Matter (PM10), which have a high incidence of respiratory disorders, notably maxillary
sinusitis. Lack of proper air pollution regulation and general awareness has escalated the problem. Viral infections trigger sinusitis, which if untreated can lead to bacterial infections, allergies, and excessive moisture that can lead to the accumulation of fungus in the sinus cavities.
1. Sudden onset of nasal blockage. 2. Nasal discharge. 3. Facial pain/ pressure. 4. Headaches. 5. Hyposmia (decreased sense of smell). 6. Redness of nose, cheeks, or eyelids. 7. Persistent coughing. 8. Sore throat. 9. Ear fullness/ pressure.
Treatment options depend on the nature of the sinusitis. Antibiotic medications are used to treat acute sinusitis. Decongestants, or the short-term use of decongestant nose sprays, can be useful. Steroid nasal sprays may be used to decrease swelling in the nasal passages. If an anatomic reason is found for chronic sinusitis, it may need to be corrected with surgery (FESS – Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery). Until the varied symptoms begin to affect the productivity, most people suffer silently. Patients with a mild sinus infection do not realize that the symptoms, which last beyond 12 weeks, could be an indication that they suffer from sinusitis.
Prevention involves the usual standards of good hygiene to cut down on the number of colds an individual catches. During winter, use a humidier. Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke. Identify and treat allergies to prevent sinus infections.