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Sinuses are cavities in the bones around your eyes and behind your forehead and cheekbones. They are connected to your nasal passages by small openings. Sinuses keep the air you breathe moist to protect your lungs; healthy sinuses drain almost a quart of mucus every day. Sinusitis is an infection of the lining of one or more of your sinuses causing swelling, which prevents your sinuses from draining properly. Pain in your sinuses may be caused by inflammation or from the pressure which develops as secretions build up in your sinuses. The infection may be viral, bacterial, or fungal and most likely results from the common cold or allergies. Your chances of getting a sinus infection increase if you:

  • Suffer hay fever
  • Smoke
  • Have a nasal deformity or sinuses that don't drain well
  • Have an abscess in an upper tooth
  • Sneeze hard with your mouth closed
  • Blow your nose too much when you have a cold

Symptoms of a Sinus Infection...

  • Head congestion
  • Nasal congestion and discharge, usually yellowish green (may or may not be accompanied by foul odor or bad taste)
  • Pain and tenderness over the facial sinuses
  • Pain in the upper jaw
  • Recurrent headaches that change with head position and disappear shortly after getting out of bed
  • Fever

Self-Care Tips...

  • A "cool-mist" humidifier can help by thinning mucus and encouraging drainage.
  • Apply warm compresses to your face to relieve pain.
  • Gently and regularly blow your nose.
  • Stay indoors in an even temperature.
  • Drink plenty of water and other liquids.
  • Take an over-the-counter medicine for pain, an over-the-counter decongestant pill, or an over-the-counter pill for pain that also contains a decongestant. Avoid over-the-counter antihistamines, as they dry out your nose too much and thicken secretions, thus inhibiting drainage.
  • Use nose drops as directed by the product information. Repeated use creates a dependency; your nasal passages "forget" how to work on their own causing you to have to keep using drops to keep your nasal passages clear. Try saline (salt water) nose drops as an alternative. Never borrow nose drops from others or let anyone use yours.
  • Add a humidifier to your furnace.

See Your Doctor If You Have Two or More of the Following Symptoms...

  • A fever over 101 degrees F.
  • Greenish-yellow or bloody-colored nasal discharge
  • Severe headache which doesn't get better when you take an over-the-counter pain reliever or that is worse in the morning or when bending forward
  • Pain between the nose and lower eyelid
  • A feeling of pressure inside your head
  • Eye pain, blurred vision, or changes in vision
  • Cheek or upper jaw pain
  • Swelling around the eyes, nose, cheeks, and forehead

Remember... Sinus complications can be serious. Your doctor can tell you if you have a sinus infection with a physical exam, laboratory study of a sample of your nasal discharge, and X-rays of the sinuses. You may need prescriptions for an antibiotic, as well as a decongestant and nasal spray and/or nose drops. These work to clear the infection and reduce congestion. Severe cases may require surgery to drain the sinuses.

Visit the Health Resource Center at Forks Community Hospital

Stop in the Forks Community Hospital to see the above information on display and also pick up your copies of helpful information to support you in meeting your new goals. May we all have a healthier year filled with many moments that are dear and will be remembered forever!

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