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  • Writer's pictureDr. Koralla Raja Meghanadh

What are the causes of sinusitis?

Updated: Feb 1

Sinusitis causes, or etiology of sinusitis is multifactorial, i.e., multiple factors cause sinusitis.

Sinusitis infection causes

The cause of a sinusitis infection is the stagnation of water or fluids in the sinuses. Bacteria can grow in stagnant fluids in the outside environment or our bodies. This bacteria in stagnated water causes infection of the sinus's skin lining, causing sinusitis.

Role of the common cold

Most sinus infections can start as a routine viral infection, like a simple common cold that affects the nose and the structures in the nose. This causes swelling in the structures of the nose. Generally, this viral infection should subside in 5 to 7 days. If the patient has any of the below three conditions, this simple viral infection can provoke fluid stagnation, leading to sinusitis.

  1. Allergy

  2. Anomalies in the sinus drainage pathway

  3. Lesser immunity against bacteria by birth

Underlying conditions responsible for Sinusitis

1. Allergy

Allergy is one of the most common sinusitis causes.

Allergy increases mucin or fluid production more than required in the sinuses.

Sinuses are air-filled cavities with an opening for air entry, and mucin is produced in these sinuses to wash out unwanted external substances like dust, bacteria, and fungi. If a person has an allergy, mucin production increases abnormally due to an allergen.

What causes sinusitis infection? -  allergy, anatomy of sinus openings and pathways and immunity

Allergens are non-living objects that don’t multiply. They induce specific chemical reactions on the body and more so on the surface they contact, like the skin, the skin of the nose (nasal mucosa), lung mucosa, or eye mucosa. This mechanism helps your body to save from external agents.

In case of allergy, our body gives a hyper reaction. In the common tongue, we can say our body overreacts.

Examples of Allergy
  1. If dust enters your nose, you end up sneezing, or your nose secretes fluids. This process keeps your nose clean. In case of allergy: The sneezes could occur multiple times, even after dust removal. If the nose is secreting fluids instead of X ml of liquid to remove the allergen, it can produce 10X to 100X ml of fluid.

  2. When an insect contacts your skin before it bites, you will throw it out due to itchiness before it bites or causes harm. In case of allergy: An allergy doesn’t stop with simple itching. A rash is formed on the skin called Urticaria.

So, in an allergy patient, excess fluids are secreted by sinus walls that cannot come from the regular sinus openings. These extra fluids stagnate when a person has a viral infection that affects the nose.

2. Anomalies of the sinus opening and drainage paths

When the sinus’s openings and drainage path responsible for draining fluids out of the sinuses are compromised during a viral infection like the common cold, the additional swelling can cause stagnation of fluids resulting in infection of the sinus walls.

3. Lesser immunity against bacteria by birth

Some people have 5 to 10% lesser immunity against bacteria than average. Having lower immunity than a normal person can be one of the sinusitis causes.

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What are the three major causes of sinusitis?

The three major causes of sinusitis are

  1. Allergies

  2. Anomalies in the sinus drainage pathway, or

  3. Less immunity against bacteria by birth

How do I stop getting sinusitis?

To stop getting sinusitis:

  1. Treat common cold promptly: Most sinus infections start as the common cold.

  2. Controlling allergies: The risk of the common cold converting to sinusitis is higher in people with allergies. Using anti-allergic medication can control the disease.

  3. Maintaining a strong immune system: A strong immune system can curb the transition of the common cold to sinusitis.

What diseases cause sinusitis?

Sinusitis is caused by diseases that can affect the nose. It is commonly caused by viral infections like the common cold. Along with this viral infection, if a person has any underlying condition, then only this viral infection will turn into sinusitis.

Check out the above article to know more about the underlying conditions.

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