Diagnosing Sinusitis: New Method; & Does Humidifier Help?

A better method for diagnosing sinusitis has been developed by an ear, nose and throat physician, Pernilla Sahlstrang Johnson, at Lund University and Skåne University Hospital. The diagnostic tool is the Doppler ultrasound sensor, which determines viscosity of sinus fluid.

Up until this point, the viscosity was determined by an unpleasant procedure of flushing out maxillary sinuses. If sinus fluid is thick, antibiotics are prescribed. If it’s thin, other treatments are recommended.

“A more accurate diagnosis could reduce the amount of antibiotics prescribed and the right treatment could also reduce costs,” states Sahlstrand Johnson. “We are planning to trial the Doppler ultrasound sensor in a clinical environment soon,” she adds, “on a number of patients at the Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic at Skåne University Hospital in Malmö and Lund.”

A humidifier is often recommended to people who suffer from sinusitis. But how effective is a humidifier for the relief of sinusitis symptoms? Symptoms include tenderness and pain around the eyes; nasal congestion; ear pain; sore throat; cough; nausea and headache.

I consulted with Dr. Stacey Silvers, MD, of Madison ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery in NYC, who is board certified in otolaryngology; one of her specialties is sinus surgery.

Dr. Silvers explains, “A humidifier alone will not cure a bout of acute bacterial sinusitis.” Acute sinusitis lasts less than 12 weeks. After that period of time, if symptoms persist, then it becomes chronic sinusitis.

“For some it may relieve the severity of the symptoms,” continues Dr. Silvers in reference to a humidifier. “For chronic sinus congestion and pressure, some may get relief with a humidifier and others will not. When a patient has associated nasal congestion they may then be breathing better through the mouth. The humidifier will act to moisten a dry throat and give relief. Nasally inhaled moisture may also loosen the thick congested mucous and help it clear better.”

Dr. Silvers also points out that if the water in a humidifier is left stagnant, and the filter not cleaned, mold can grow and spread, making nasal issues even worse. So make sure that the filter is cleaned daily and fresh water is always used.

What can cause sinusitis? Infection (bacterial, viral or fungal) are culprits. The risk of developing sinusitis is heightened by the following conditions: gastroesophageal reflux disease, tooth infection, deviated nasal septum (the wall that is between the nostrils), nasal polyps, allergies and cigarette smoke.

Repeated micro-trauma to the nasal passages, such as from cleaning out the nose on a daily basis with an instrument such as a cotton swab, can result in irritated nerve endings or inflammation, leading to some sinusitis symptoms.

Besides using a humidifier to relieve the symptoms of sinusitis, there are other home remedies. You can start by sleeping with your head elevated, to help drain the sinuses. Another thing you can do is to rinse out your nasal passages with a neti pot or bulb syringe. For facial pain, place warm damp towels on your cheeks and around your eyes and nose.







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