HEAD – Sinusitis headache
Nowadays, people often use the term Sinusitis for headache. In medical terminology Sinusitis is a term used for headache which arises due to fluid collection in the sinuses. We have four sets of sinuses (bony, air-filled cavities within the bones of the skull) on both sides of the nasal cavity (so they are called the para nasal sinuses – PNS). They are frontal, ethmoid, maxillary and sphenoid. They all connect with the nose through narrow channels.
The large sinus is maxillary which constitutes about 15cc. The small one is frontal which constitutes about 6-7 ml. The main use of sinus is to prevent echoes while we speak which may reverberate in the skull (as a resonant box just equivalent to sponge or coir in the walls of a theatre or hanging pots in the halls of old houses). It also helps in pronunciation of nasal consonants (M, N and Ng). It is also useful for air-conditioning and lightening the skull.
As the mucous membrane of the nose gets infected in the case of cold or allergy, it becomes swollen and thickened. Initially, there will be thin serous discharges which become purulent rapidly. The infection extends to the sinuses and produce thick mucus within the sinus which drains into the nose through narrow channels.
If mucosa thickening becomes more, it will block the pathway preventing the outflow of mucus which induces growth of bacteria or virus in the sinus. This causes fluid (pus) collection in the sinus, termed as Sinusitis. This may cause a dull, deep or severe headache which may last up to three weeks. The pain may result from stimulation of the sensory nerves due to pressure of the inflamed swollen mucosa or due to fluid in the diseased sinus.
Causative factors of Sinusitis:
a) Through infection
1) Untreated or maltreated respiratory infection (such as a cold)
2) Dental sepsis
3) Ear infection
b) Through external factors
1) Changes in atmospheric pressure (in high altitudes)
2) Sudden change in the temperature
3) Prolonged exposure to cold
4) Swimming and diving in dirty water
5) Injury causing fracture of facial bones or bones in the nose
c) Through internal factors
1) Allergies (allergic rhinitis)
3) Foreign substance
4) Deviated nasal septum or a deformity of the nose or tumour
5) Nasal polyp (swellings in the nasal passage)
7) Cleft palate
There are 4 types of Sinusitis:
Maxillary sinusitis – This is the commonest form of sinusitis since its opening in the nose is in such a position that drain is not so easy. Here pain occurs mostly in the cheek, gums, teeth and upper jaw. There may be heaviness below the eyes. Usually this type of sinusitis occurs in children due to untreated cold and allergy.
Ethmoidal sinusitis – Here pain is present between and behind the eyes. This type is seen usually associated with maxillary sinus in children and frontal sinus in adults. Usually it occurs after diving and swimming in dirty water or riding in cold wind. This sinusitis is usually accompanied with nose block and sensitive eye to light.
Frontal sinusitis – Pain is seen in the forehead and this is very severe in nature. There may be heaviness, puffiness above the eyes. These patients are usually diagnosed by ophthalmologists since patients go to them with strained eyes. This type won’t occur in children since this sinus develops somewhat later in life.
Sphenoidal sinusitis – Here pain is present all over the head especially over the temples and vertex. This type of sinusitis is usually accompanied by other sinusitis.
Symptoms of Sinusitis
Starts with cold which may turn into continuous cold and cough with sore throat
Nasal obstruction with red and swollen nasal passages
Pain and pressure around the eyes, cheeks and forehead
Stabbing, throbbing or pulsating pain in the affected area
Tenderness (while pressing) in the affected area
Foul smelling nasal discharge which is thick and yellow or green in colour
Pus may be found on hawking which may be yellowish or golden yellow
Puffiness around the eyes and facial swelling
Unpleasant taste from post-nasal drip
Aggravating factors of Sinusitis headache
1) Morning – Usually headache is more in the morning and reduces by afternoon
2) Damp weather
3) Jarring movements and bending
5) Sudden temperature changes
6) Nose blowing
Diagnosis of Sinusitis
Distinguishing sinus headaches from other headaches, such as migraines or tension headaches, is not always easy or straightforward. Early morning headache, headache with nose block, headache with cold often suggest sinusitis symptomatically, but confirmation can be made by an X-ray where haziness over the affected part can be made out easily.
Tests that have to be done for treating sinus headache with underlying causes are:
Blood test for allergy – Eosinophilia
Nasal smear for Eosinophilia
CT scan & MRI of the head
Complications – Meningitis or abscesses can occur when infection spreads from the sinus.
The persistent feeling of not feeling well or fatigue may push the patient to depression.
Prevention of Sinusitis
Prevention is better than cure. So, patients who suffer often from sinusitis should
1) Cold and allergic things. Exposure to anything that creates allergy should be avoided
2) Chocolates, tinned foods which contain preservatives
3) Alcoholic drinks and cigarette smoking
1) Plenty of water
2) Eat a healthy diet to keep the immune system strong DO
1) Steam inhalation (from a basin of hot water) during the initial period of cold
2) Aerobic exercise which helps the sinuses drain naturally.
Treatment of Sinusitis – Treatment should not only relieve the pain but should also prevent its recurrence. The main motto should be to reduce sinus swelling and inflammation and to facilitate mucous drainage from the sinuses. It also depends upon whether it is unilateral or bilateral, acute or chronic, and any other structural complaints like polyps, DNS and any other deformities or tumours. Treatment may include self-care and medications.
Self care for Sinusitis
Inhaling steam will humidify and evaporate the fluid collected in the sinus
Applying heat over the area affected will also reduce fluid accumulation
Mouth care – by removing infected teeth
Diet – Vitamins, especially vitamin C and zinc, can be taken to enhance the immune mechanism and thus reduce sinus inflammation and recurrences
Rest – Physical and mental relaxation will also give relief in cases of headache
Medication: In Allopathy – The treatment of Sinusitis remains controversial since a majority of the causes are not bacterial but usage of antibiotics is more. When it is bacterial, antibiotic treatment as well as surgical drainage of the infected sinus at the complicated stage may be required.
Pain relievers (analgesics) that give symptomatic relief. It is difficult for persons suffering from peptic ulcers to take analgesics.
Decongestants and antihistamines are used to reduce swelling and to relieve sinus symptoms by opening the closed nasal passages to drain
Saline nasal sprays are used for humidification
In difficult cases, nasal steroid spray is used where allergies or nasal polyp dominate. It usually causes dependency. Also, when nasal decongestants are used for more than five days, it may increase the swelling and make the symptoms worse.
Surgery and other procedures – Surgery is usually not required. But surgical procedures like puncture under local anesthesia, and draining the sinuses are often performed where recurrences are common. Patients with a structural abnormality (deviated septum or nasal polyps) or chronic Sinusitis who do not respond to medications may undergo surgery as a last resort. But it is not always successful for getting rid of the symptoms.
Homeopathic approach to Sinusitis
One of the most common reasons why people seek homeopathic care is that it will be permanent and the treatment has no side-effects. It is very much refined. It is very safe, effective and is an easy way to attain permanent cure. Homeopathy treats patients rather than the disease.
Instantly killing pain with a painkiller tablet is like putting off the light when you don’t want to see the things; surely, the day will come when you cannot switch off the pain. Likewise, in Sinusitis headache, people take pills often, which may suppress pain. This will also cause ulceration or other side-effects.
In Homeopathy, you are in safer hands; you won’t get any ulceration or other side-effects. So, even patients suffering from peptic ulcer and those very sensitive to painkillers or antibiotics can also take homeopathic medicines without any adverse reactions. The Homeopathy medicines not only relieve the pain but also treat the condition permanently.
Some may go often for puncture of the sinus for drain. This will temporarily relieve the ailment but not prevent recurrence. Even if the fluid is drained, it will collect again and again and cause pain. This can be rectified through Homoeopathy.
The best way to get rid of a sinus headache is to treat the underlying sinus inflammation and the sinus headache will disappear once the sinuses are cleared. Sinusitis presents different sets of symptoms in every patient. Before prescribing a remedy, Homeopaths usually look into the patient’s constitutional type and characteristic symptom for selection of the right remedy. In homeopathic terms, a person’s constitution is his/her physical, emotional and intellectual make-up.
The following remedies are commonly prescribed for sinus headache – Ars alb, Belladonna, Bryonia, Hepar sulph, Iris vers, Kali bich, Natrum mur, Pulsatilla, Silicea, Spigelia, Gelsemium, Nux vom, etc. The medicines should be taken under the advice and diagnosis of a Homoeopath. If the medicines are selected properly with a qualified Homeopath, you can get rid of this headache giving Sinusitis.