What is sphenoid sinusitis?
Sphenoid sinusitis is typically described as an acute inflammation of—either one or both—of the sphenoid sinuses (the two large cavities located directly behind the nose and set between the eyes).
The condition is sometimes limited to the sphenoid cavities, which is typically referred to as isolated sphenoid sinusitis. However, in many cases, the inflammation can also affect multiple cavities throughout the sinuses, such as the ethmoid air cells or the maxillary sinuses.[*]
If left untreated, sphenoid sinusitis may cause severe complications, such as neurological symptoms, abscesses in the brain, and meningitis.[*]
Chronic sphenoid sinusitis is identified when the inflammation of the infected area persist for more than a period of 12 weeks.[*]
What causes sphenoid sinusitis?
One of the most common causes of acute sphenoid sinusitis is a bacterial infection brought on by Streptococcus pneumonia (strep throat). A bacterial infection of this nature usually develops as a result of a prior sinus condition, typically caused by a virus (i.e. the common cold) or seasonal allergies.
Another common cause of sphenoid sinusitis is a viral infection known as Haemophilus influenza (i.e. the flu). This type of viral infection can sometimes lead to the inflammation of the sphenoid cavities. Under these conditions, bacterial infections are also at an increased rate of development.
Sphenoid sinusitis can also be triggered by allergens or fungal infections that develop into sinus infections, spreading into the sphenoid cavities. If left untreated, the irritated tissues in the sinuses can present an ideal breeding ground for bacterial infections to develop.
What are the symptoms of sphenoid sinusitis?
Sphenoid sinusitis symptoms are similar to those of a typical sinus infection. However the most commonly reported symptom, leading to a diagnosis of sphenoid sinusitis, is the onset of a sinus headache, especially in the areas around the forehead and temples. There are several symptoms that can indicate the presence of sphenoid sinusitis, including:[*]
- Neck pain
- Pain behind the eyes and around the temples
- Post nasal drip
- Sinus congestion
- Sore throat
How to treat sphenoid sinusitis?
Sphenoid sinusitis is typically treated with a broad-spectrum antibiotic to combat the bacterial infection—Streptococcus pneumonia—commonly at the root of the condition. Many sufferers also use over-the-counter medications, nasal sprays, and decongestants to help relieve sphenoid sinusitis symptoms, such as headaches, post nasal drip, and sinus pressure.[*]
Many sphenoid sinusitis symptoms, such as post nasal drip and sinus congestion, can be treated with a nasal nebulizer. Nasal nebulizers deliver both prescription and over-the-counter medications deep within the sinuses to help treat and cure the underlying causes. They also work well with nasal safe saline solutions and moisturizers to provide relief from pain and irritation.
Because sphenoid sinusitis has the potential to develop into severe neurological symptoms and physical complications, it’s important to seek early diagnosis and to start treatment right away.[*]
When detected early, the majority of patients with sphenoid sinusitis respond well to treatment. However, if an infection is left unattended or if the infection is too serious, it may be necessary to turn to surgical treatment to prevent further medical complications.[*]
How to prevent sphenoid sinusitis?
To help prevent the development of an isolated sphenoid sinus infection, it’s important to reduce exposure to harmful bacteria, viruses, allergens and other triggers that may irritate and inflame the sinus cavities. Here are some measures to help maintain a healthy, well-functioning nose:
- Avoid smoke, fumes, and other airborne irritants
- Practice daily nasal hygiene
- Maintain allergy prevention routines
- Wear a mask when necessary
- Report sinus issues o a doctor after 3 to 5 days with no improvement
In addition to these practices, rinsing (or “washing”) your sinuses on a daily basis with a nasal nebulizer can help reduce your exposure to potentially harmful viruses, bacteria, and allergens that are at the root cause of sphenoid sinusitis. Using a nasal safe saline solution allows you to cleanse and eliminate trapped particles and irritants inside your sinuses. While a moisturizing solution helps revitalize your sinuses and provide additional comfort.