Sinuses can affect ears, hearing

POSTED: 11:06 AM PST December 6, 2012    UPDATED: 1:14 PM PDT August 22, 2013 

By Pure Matters

Acute sinusitis is short-term, intense infection or inflammation of the membranes in your sinuses, the air-filled cavities in the bones around the eyes and behind the nose. Millions of Americans develop this common condition at least once a year, says the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Symptoms of sinusitis can affect the nose, eyes or middle ear.

Colds and allergies

When you have a cold, the lining of your nose becomes inflamed and produces mucus. If the swelling spreads to your sinuses, the small openings that allow them to drain become narrower. This traps air and mucus in your sinuses, making it easier for viruses, bacteria or -- rarely -- fungi to grow.

Allergies also cause inflammation of the nasal membranes and can prevent the body's removal of bacteria commonly present in sinuses, causing sinusitis. In fact, people who suffer from nasal allergies are more likely to get sinus infections, the NIAID says.

Symptoms of sinusitis

Pain above or below the eyes -- sometimes it feels as though it's in the upper teeth -- and facial pressure are classic signs of sinusitis. Facial discomfort may feel worse when you bend over or when you lower your head on a level with or below your heart. Other symptoms include:

Because these symptoms don't always indicate sinusitis, your health care provider may need to determine what's causing them.

Treatment tips

In some cases, your health care provider may prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial sinusitis. Your provider also may recommend self-care strategies, such as the following, to help ease your symptoms and make you feel more comfortable: