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Common Ailments

Sinusitis

What is it?
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the lining of the paranasal sinuses that is caused by viral, allergic, or bacterial factors that result in blockage of normal sinus drainage.

What are the symptoms?
Commonly:
- Nasal discharge that may be clear or yellowish
- Post-nasal drip that creates throat irritation and cough
- Fullness, pressure, tenderness, or ache behind eyes
Sometimes:
- Toothache-like pain
- Swelling around eyes or nasal area
- Fever

How is it treated?
Decrease sinus congestion:
- Decongestants to reduce stuffiness by promoting sinus drainage.
- Nasal sprays to reduce stuffiness. Although nasal sprays work quickly and effectively, they should not be used for longer than 3 days to avoid a "rebound effect" and increased congestion.

Decrease fever and pain:
- Ibuprofen (600 mg every 8 hours), or acetaminophen (650 mg) every 4-6 hours as needed unless your health care provider advises against taking one of these medications.
- Because aspirin and ibuprofen have anti-inflammatory properties, they may provide increased pain relief by decreasing inflammation of the lining of the paranasal sinuses.

If sinusitis is caused by bacteria, it may be treated with an antibiotic:
- Take the prescribed antibiotic as instructed. Continue taking the antibiotic for the full number of days that it is prescribed even after your symptoms improve.

What can you do?
- Increase fluid intake to help liquefy thick secretions and reduce fever. Drink 8 glasses of clear fluid per day.
- Use steam, a humidifier, or vaporizer to reduce nasal stuffiness.
- Apply a warm moist compress over sinus areas 4 times a day for 10-15 minutes to decrease pain and reduce congestion.
- Gargle with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water) four times a day.
- Practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently and properly disposing of facial tissues.
- If you have any questions or concerns about your antibiotic treatment, consult your health care provider.

Consult health care personnel:
- If symptoms do not improve in 3-4 days.
- If symptoms worsen or new symptoms develop.
- If any symptoms worry you.
- If you have questions or are unsure of what to do.

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