John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.
Sinus infection, or sinusitis, is an inflammation of the sinuses and nasal passages. A sinus infection can cause a headache or pressure in the eyes, nose, cheek area, or on one side of the head. A person with a sinus infection may also
have a cough, sore throat, fever, bad breath, and nasal congestion with thick nasal
secretions. Sinusitis is categorized as acute (sudden onset) or chronic (long
term, the most common type).
Sinusitis is very common. In 2010 there were 29.8 million adults diagnosed
with sinusitis in the United States. In 2007 there were 12.5 million visits to
health practitioners for chronic sinusitis alone.
Here is an overview of the anatomy of the sinuses (also called paranasal sinuses). The human skull
contains four major pairs of hollow air-filled cavities called sinuses. These
are connected to the space between the nostrils and the nasal passage (behind
your nose). Sinuses
help insulate the skull, reduce its weight, and allow the voice to resonate
within it. The four major pairs of sinuses are the:
frontal sinuses (in the forehead),
maxillary sinuses (behind the cheek bones),
ethmoid sinuses (between the
sphenoid sinuses (behind the
The sinuses contain defenses against viruses and bacteria (germs). The sinuses are covered with a mucous layer and cells that contain tiny hairs on their surfaces (cilia). These help trap and propel bacteria and pollutants outward.
Acute sinusitis typically lasts less than eight weeks or occurs no more than
times per year with each episode lasting no longer than 10 days. Medications are
generally effective against acute sinusitis. Successful treatment counteracts
damage done to the mucous lining of the sinuses and surrounding bone of the skull.
Chronic or recurring sinusitis lasts longer than eight weeks or occurs more than four times per
year, with symptoms usually lasting more than 20 days.
A neti-pot is a ceramic pot used for nasal saline irrigation of the nasal passages. Saline irrigation involves flushing the nasal passages with a salt and water solution to thin the mucus and facilitate drainage of the sinuses. A Neti pot resembles a small teapot, shaped somewhat like the depictions of Aladdin's magic lamp. Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists may recommend nasal irrigation with a Neti pot to help clear crusting in the nasal passages. Many people with chronic sinus symptoms use the Neti pot to alleviate congestion, facial pain and pressure, and reduce the need for antibiotics and nasal sprays. Nasal saline irrigation can safely be performed at home, but it is important to discuss this procedure with your physician. Mild side effects of Neti pot use can be nasal irritation and/or a stinging sensation.