Everyone has sinuses; and that is not a disease. The common misnomer is that sinuses implies some kind of “sickness” in the nasal area, which is not the case.
Sinuses are space filled cavities in the nasal region of all humans. They are very important in helping us with speech and intonation, as well as producing mucus which keeps the area moist and healthy and traps bacteria.
Inflamed sinuses are one of the most common nasal conditions; medically, we call that sinusitis. If you have ever felt congestion, giving you a headache, making it hard for you to breathe or to speak, then chances are you had sinusitis at some point.
Sinusitis can be described as acute or chronic, i.e. either of recent onset or a more long standing kind. Both kinds have been known to negatively affect the functioning of the nasal system, as well as causing bad breath. But what causes sinusitis exactly!!!
Sinuses usually get inflamed when they are filled with mucous leading to blockage; this inflammation can be caused by the common cold, allergies, nasal polyps, etc. When they are blocked, bacteria multiply within the mucus and can cause infections, which may last a short time or a very long time, hence the term chronic. Chronic sinusitis will last over 12 weeks while acute sinusitis usually lasts 2 to 4 weeks;
Because the sinuses are closely related to the mouth, a disease in the sinuses will show itself in the mouth. This occurs because infected mucus is draining to the back of your throat. This infected mucus smells bad and when it meets the air coming out of your throat, you start to exhale a foul smelling air.
Sinus infections may also present with headaches, pressure in the facial region, sore throat and dry mouth among others.
There are some home remedies you can try if you are experiencing the above condition; you could use over the counter antihistamines, nasal sprays, and drinking lots of fluids. It is usually necessary to see your doctor if the symptoms do not resolve beyond 10 days.
Dr. Trevor T. Kwagala is a Dental Surgeon and the General Secretary of the Uganda Dental Association.
For more information, visit the website at www.ugadent.org.