Acute sinusitis usually follows a viral infection in the upper respiratory tract, but allergy-causing substances (allergens) or pollutants may also trigger acute sinusitis. Viral infection damages the cells of the sinus lining, leading to inflammation. The lining thickens, obstructing the nasal passage. This passage connects to the sinuses. The obstruction disrupts the process that removes bacteria normally present in the nasal passages, and the bacteria begin to multiply and invade the lining of the sinus. This causes the symptoms of sinus infection. Allergens and pollutants produce a similar effect.
Bacteria that normally cause acute sinusitis are Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Moraxella catarrhalis. These microorganisms, along with Staphylococcus aureus and some anaerobes (bacteria that live without oxygen), are involved in chronic sinusitis.
Fungi are also becoming an increasing cause of chronic sinusitis, especially in people with diseases that weaken the immune system, such as AIDS, leukemia, and diabetes.
Humans have four major sinuses in their skull, which are hollow cavities filled with air. They are lined with mucous and have cells covered in hair, which work to trap invading bacteria and particles and push them out. A sinus infection, otherwise known as sinusitis, occurs when the sinuses and nasal passages become inflamed, causing pressure on the skull and other symptoms.
A sinus infection can be caused by a virus, which can damage the cells in the sinuses. They become inflamed, the lining thickens, and the normal passageways are obstructed. The sinuses are no longer able to get rid of bacteria and particles that become trapped, and the buildup leads to a sinus infection. Allergens or pollutants in the air can also lead to an infection, and work in a similar way as the virus. Fungi are becoming an increasing cause of sinus infections, especially in people who already have compromised immune systems.
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