Rhinosinusitis: do not confuse the disease with other respiratory complications

Rhinosinusitis: do not confuse the disease with other respiratory complications

In medical language, the suffix -ite (from the Greek itis or ite) indicates disease or inflammation of the organ or anatomical structure indicated in the radical: bronchitis, tonsillitis, pancreatitis, and so on. When the subject is the “ites” of medicine, many doubts hover in the patients’ heads. A very recurrent one is related to rhinosinusitis, popularly known as sinusitis, a bacterial infectious process that inflames the cavities around the nasal passages.

It is common for people to confuse the disease with disorders such as a cold, for example, a respiratory infection that can be triggered by different types of viruses, or with the flu, caused by the influenza virus. This is because, as a rule, the symptoms are similar: impaired breathing, runny nose, body aches, prostration, malaise, fever and tiredness.

However, it is necessary to be aware that rhinosinusitis has these and other more specific signs such as: headache, pain or facial pressure, nasal obstruction or congestion, purulent nasal discharge, fever, halitosis, dental pain, otalgia or pressure in the ears, cough, fatigue and pain in the dental arch, among others.

Dr. Ana Paula Fiuza Funicello Dualibi explains that, especially in children, inflammatory processes in the airways can be quite frequent, especially in conditions favorable to them, such as low temperatures. And, when the little ones are affected by rhinosinusitis, the symptoms can vary according to the age range and intensity of the condition. “Children have a predisposition due to the immature immune defense of age. In general, adults tend to respond better to these diseases”, he details.

Rhinosinusitis x other diseases

Although the symptoms of rhinosinusitis may be similar to those of other diseases, such as flu and colds, there are differences in their evolution and their involvement in the body. Tinnitus and dizziness, for example, can be symptoms of flu, but not necessarily of

rhinosinusitis. Pains in the sinuses that radiate to lower areas such as the neck, dental arch and jaw are more evident signs of the disease. “A medical evaluation is essential to reach the correct diagnosis. It is also worth remembering that the use of medicines without a prescription from the specialist is contraindicated”, says Dr. Ana Paula. 

For example, rhinosinusitis cannot be confused with rhinitis, since, while the former is an infectious bacterial process, rhinitis is diagnosed by inflammation of the nasal mucosa. Chronic or recurrent cases are usually determined by allergic rhinitis, induced by exposure to components that are more likely to cause allergies in people, including house dust mites, cockroaches, fungi, epithelium, urine and saliva of animals (dog and cat) . In this sense, rhinitis is a process that can trigger a complication of rhinosinusitis.

Go put on a sock, boy!

The specialist demystifies the popular concept that “coldness” makes the person sick. Who, in childhood, never heard from their mother that they had to protect their feet from the cold so as not to get sick? In fact, winter favors the circulation of viruses such as the flu, for example, so the body tends to have complications.

“Dry air and low temperature are the great villains of respiratory processes. Not to mention the fact that, in the cold, people tend to gather more, especially in public places and with great circulation such as commercial establishments, bus stations, subway stations and so on. This agglomeration greatly favors the transmission of viruses,” he says.

In the heat, however, the blame lies with the HVAC devices: excessive use of air conditioning at very low temperatures can be quite harmful to health. “Air conditioning dries the air and favors respiratory decompensation processes. It is also necessary to redouble the care with personal hygiene, asepsis and sanitization of the environments”, says Dr. Ana Paula. 

Allergies and chronic diseases such as asthma are also villains when it comes to rhinosinusitis and other complications. Viral conditions, on the other hand, open a loophole for the entry of bacteria and other pathogens, which may evolve into more serious complications such as rhinosinusitis. “The pathogen harms the immune system and facilitates the entry of bacteria, for example, because it inflames the tissue and makes it vulnerable”, says the doctor.

Doctor Ana Paula Fiuza Funicello Dualibi graduated from PUC-SP and has a degree in Otorhinolaryngology and a doctorate from Unifesp – Federal University of São Paulo.

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