About Maxillary Sinus Disease

By Michaele Curtis

Sinuses--holes in your skull and facial bones that are lined with membranes that secret mucus--help to prevent irritants and allergens from being inhaled into your respiratory system. Maxillary sinus diseases (also called maxillary sinusitis or simply sinusitis) are the most common of all sinus infections because of their location and structure. Still, maxillary sinus disease is relatively easy to treat once you recognize the symptoms.

The Maxillary Sinus

Maxillary sinus disease is an infection that affects the maxillary sinus cavity, one of the four sinus cavities in your head. It's the largest of the sinus cavities. It's also the most vulnerable to infection because of its location and drainage pattern. The maxillary sinus cavity is found below your eyes, on either side of the nose. Mucus from the maxillary sinus drains upward to the nasal cavity and therefore drains best when you lean forward with your head down.

Causes

Your maxillary sinus can become diseased or infected because of a blockage in the ostium, the opening through which mucus flows from the maxillary sinus. If you have an infected tooth near the area, the bacteria or fungus can find its way through the connection of the mouth and nasal cavity, down to the maxillary sinus area. A common cold or your normal allergies can put you at risk for this type of sinusitis.

Symptoms

There are several signs of a maxillary sinus disease. Nasal congestion is a common one, as is a headache or fever. Nasal discharge also increases when you have maxillary sinus disease, even down the back of your throat. You may also experience postnasal drip or excessive nasal discharge when you tilt your head forward. In addition, maxillary sinus disease can manifest itself as pain or tenderness near the sinus cavities around your cheeks or jaws, or tooth pain.

Treatment

Anti-inflammatory drugs and decongestants are the most common way to treat maxillary sinus disease. Your health care provider may also advise you to use a warm compress on the area to relieve buildup or blockage. For more severe cases, your heath care provider may remove buildup or blockage through nasal irrigation with a syringe of warm salt water. For the worst-case scenario, you may require oral surgery, but this is very rare.

Prevention

Prevent maxillary sinus disease by strengthening your immune system. A balanced diet and fitness routine does wonders for helping you to fight off any infection, including all types of sinusitis. You should also limit your exposure to environmental allergens or people with contagious colds or flu. Also, practice good oral hygiene to prevent any infections in your mouth from spreading to your maxillary sinus. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and use an antibacterial mouthwash.

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