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Sinus Problems

The sinuses are air-filled spaces in the skull (behind the forehead, nasal bones, cheeks, and eyes) that are lined with mucus membranes. Healthy sinuses contain no bacteria or other germs. Usually, mucus is able to drain out and air is able to circulate.

When the sinus openings become blocked or too much mucus builds up, bacteria and other germs can grow more easily, causing a sinus infection, or sinusitis.

Sinusitis Can Occur from One of These Conditions:

  • Small hairs (cilia) in the sinuses, which help move mucus out, do not work properly due to some medical conditions.
  • Colds and allergies may cause too much mucus to be made or block the opening of the sinuses.
  • A deviated nasal septum, nasal bone spur, or nasal polyps may block the opening of the sinuses.

Ear, nose and throat doctors use a variety of techniques and diagnostic tests to determine the cause of sinusitis, including nasal endoscopy, a CT scan of the sinuses or an MRI scan.

Antibiotics are usually not needed for acute sinusitis. Most of these infections go away on their own. Even when antibiotics do help, they may only slightly reduce the time you or your child is sick.

Other Treatments for Sinusitis Include:

  • Allergy shots (immunotherapy) to help prevent the disease from returning
  • Avoiding allergy triggers
  • Nasal corticosteroid sprays and antihistamines to decrease swelling, especially if there are nasal polyps or allergies

Surgery to clean and drain the sinuses may also be necessary, especially in patients whose symptoms fail to go away after three months, despite medical treatment, or in patients who have more than two or three episodes of acute sinusitis each year. An ear, nose and throat specialist (also known as an otolaryngologist) can perform this surgery.

If you have questions about thyroid disease or surgery, one of the board-certified ear, nose and throat specialists with Saint John Hospital may be able to help you. They can provide testing to determine the cause of the thyroid problem, and offer proven medical and surgical treatments.