As leaves turn auburn and fall and autumn leads to winter, chill sets in making the air dry. This makes it harder on your nose to warm the air you breathe, creating an ideal environment to catch certain widespread winter illnesses or aggravate any underlying medical conditions including sinusitis and bronchitis.
The medical conditions brought in by the cold weather also share many common symptoms making it hard to quickly determine what is what. Many times this keeps you ignorant and wondering while worsening the disease or the medical condition, sometimes leading to hospitalization.
It is an inflammation of the paranasal sinuses caused by virus, bacteria, fungus, allergy or even an autoimmune reaction. Doctors also call it rhinosinusitis. Sinuses are the connected system of hollow air spaces in the front bones of the face. The largest are an inch across and others are much smaller.
There are four pairs of sinuses:
- Maxillary sinuses, the largest are in the cheek bone area.
- Frontal sinuses are located in the lower part of the forehead.
- Ethmoid sinuses are located between the eyes.
- Sphenoid sinuses are in bones behind the nose.
Sinuses are lined with soft, pink tissue called mucosa, which produces a slimy secretion called mucus to trap airborne dirt and germs. They are usually empty, except for a thin layer of mucus. Most of the sinuses drain into the nose through a small drainage pathway called middle meatus.
A thin wall called septum divides the nose. Ridges called turbinates are structures that are inside of the nose to humidify and filter the air we breathe in through the nostrils. Why do we have sinuses? One theory is that they humidify and filter the air we breathe in while another says that they give our voice a rich tone.
Sinus conditions may be classified as
This usually starts as a cold and then turns into a bacterial infection infecting the cavities causing an inflammation. Allergies, fungus, nasal problems and some disease conditions may also cause acute sinusitis. Excess mucus, postnasal drip – mucus drainage in the back of the throat, nasal congestion, fever, weakness, cough, fatigue, discomfort and pain in the cheeks, forehead, around the eyes and headaches are common symptoms of sinusitis.
This is a persistent inflammation of the sinuses causing all the symptoms of acute sinusitis for a much longer duration
If you have any of these symptoms, please contact ENT specialists at Apollo Hospitals immediately.
It is also called allergic rhinitis. Pollen, dust mites, pet dander irritate the nose forcing it to overreact leading to itching, nasal stuffiness, mucus and sneezing.
These are small growths in the nasal cavity caused by inflammation due to asthma, chronic sinusitis infections, and nasal allergies such as hay fever.
This is a condition where the ridges on the nasal septum are enlarged resulting in blocked airflow.
Sinus treatments include antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestants, nasal saline or steroid spray, nasal washes and in rare cases sinus surgery when the nasal growths are to be removed or deviations in the septum need to be corrected to ease airflow.
It is a condition where the lining of the bronchial tubes – airways between the nose and the lungs become inflamed or infected. This results in heavy mucus or phlegm forming in the airways leading to reduced ability to
breathe air or oxygen and causing coughing spells accompanied by phlegm or breathlessness.
It is caused by virus, bacteria and other particles that irritate the bronchial tubes. Common symptoms include low grade fever, shortness of breath, wheezing and tightness in the chest.
There are two types of bronchitis:
The same virus that causes colds and the flu causes acute bronchitis. The virus spreads through air when infected people cough or through physical contact. It is also caused by exposure to tobacco smoke, air pollution, dust, vapors, and fumes or to a lesser extent by bacteria. In most cases, acute bronchitis gets better within days though the cough can last weeks after the infection is gone.
Treatments include fluids and rest. Acetaminophen is prescribed to treat fever. A humidifier or steam helps to melt the built in phlegm. Inhaled medicine may be required to open up the airways to ease wheezing. In the case of a bacterial infection, antibiotics will help.
Chronic bronchitis is a type of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). It is a recurrent long term condition. The inflamed bronchial tubes produce lot of mucus, causing extreme coughing and breathing difficulties. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of chronic bronchitis though, inhaling dust, fumes and other pollutants like pollen over a long period of time may also lead to it.
There is no treatment for chronic bronchitis; however, treatment can help with your symptoms. It often includes medicines to open airways and clear mucus. Oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation may help manage the condition.
If you have constant cough, please consult pulmonologists at Apollo Hospitals today.
Here are some measures you can take to keep away from sinusitis or bronchitis this winter:
- Maintain basic hygiene by washing hands frequently with soap and warm water. Vacuum clean the rooms and upholstery in the house and keep the windows closed from 5AM to 10 AM as that is when the pollen count in the air is highest.
- Get flu and allergy shots on time.
- Live a balanced life. Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Exercise daily and get adequate rest.
- Quit smoking.
- Use humidifier or inhale steam. If you use a humidification machine, don’t forget to clean it, regularly.
- Avoid lung irritants such as air pollution, dust, fumes, pets and plants.