By LORI KESSINGER
Special to the Sun-Gazette
Constant weather changes have a way of fooling the body, making it not sure how to act. It also is difficult to dress for; one minute you have your coat on, then you get hot and take your coat off, only to put your coat back on because you become chilled again.
When this occurs, there tends be a negative outcome ... people start getting sick!
Sinus-related problems are one of the most common types of illnesses people deal with after having a cold.
Your sinuses are hollow air spaces within the bones between your eyes, behind your cheekbone and in the forehead. They are lined with mucus membranes, which help keep the inside of your nose moist. That, in turn, helps protect against dust, allergens and pollutants.
Healthy sinuses are able to drain mucus out and air is able to circulate.
However, when the mucus membranes become blocked or too much mucus builds up, bacteria and germs can grow more easily, potentially creating problems such as infection.
When an infection occurs, it is called sinusitis or, more commonly, a sinus infection. Sinusitis is categorized into three groups: acute, sub-acute and chronic.
Acute, sub-acute and chronic sinusitis is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. Typically, acute sinusitis lasts a couple weeks in duration. Sub-acute lasts up to three months and chronic sinusitis lasts more than three months.
Risk factors that contribute to sinusitis include:
Changes in altitude (flying, scuba diving);
Weak immune system;
It is important to remember that the risk factors do not guarantee that you will get sinusitis, but they do increase the possibility.
With that being said, let's take a look at the symptoms of sinusitis so you can gain a better understanding of what you're looking for. The following are symptoms typically associated with sinusitis:
Cough, often getting worse at night;
Headache, pressure pain behind eyes or facial tenderness;
Loss of smell;
Sore throat and postnasal drip;
Nasal congestion and discharge.
Chronic sinusitis has similar symptoms but they tend to be mild and last for more than 12 weeks.
If sinusitis plagues you, there are a few ways to begin feeling better. Trying these home remedies may improve your symptoms:
Use a Neti Pot (a device that flushes out the mucus membranes);
Get plenty of fluids to keep the body hydrated;
Use nasal saline spray a few times a day;
Try inhaling steam. Turn on the shower and sit in the bathroom for a few minutes;
Apply a warm, moist washcloth to your face a few times a day;
Try using a humidifier.
When using over-the-counter nasal saline spray, it is recommended that you follow the instructions carefully, as using the spray for an extended period of time can actually worsen nasal congestion.
If your symptoms continue for more than 10 to 14 days, without improvement, contact your physician for further examination. Chronic sinusitis may require prescription medicine.
Kessinger is a certified medical assistant with Jersey Shore Medical Associates, a partner of Jersey Shore Hospital. For more information, visit www.jsh.org.