Sinus Infections

What is Ethmoid Sinusitis?

February 3, 2023

5 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Your ethmoid sinuses play an integral role in your body’s overall functionality. They create and store small amounts of mucus, which then in turn clean your nose out, keeping it free of bacteria. Think of it as a sort of built-in irrigation system. When your sinus cavities become inflamed, it can lead to a painful and potentially dangerous condition known as ethmoid sinusitis, which affects this irrigation system. 

The specialists at Kaplan Sinus Relief are here to explain exactly what ethmoid sinusitis is and help you sort through the treatment options.

What is ethmoid sinusitis?

The ethmoid sinuses sit between the eyes and the nose near the bridge; they look like hollows in the bones. Mucus lines the ethmoid sinuses in order to keep the nose moist and filter the air you breathe in. However, when too much mucus is produced and leads to a backup, the sinuses can become inflamed and lead to a condition known as “sinusitis.” 

How do you get ethmoid sinusitis?

The main difference between rhinitis vs. sinusitis is that sinusitis is caused by viruses, bacteria, and the occasional fungus rather than allergens. Sinusitis also stems from the nasal blockages associated with colds and polyps. Allergies can lead to sinusitis as well, but more due to the symptoms in and of themselves rather than exposure to the source of the allergic reaction.Other potential root causes of ethmoid sinusitis include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Dental infection
  • Swollen adenoids
  • Deviated septum
  • Smoke exposure
  • Facial trauma

It can take one to two weeks after exposure to another individual with sinusitis to start displaying symptoms. By contrast, rhinitis occurs as soon as you come into contact with the inciting allergens and ends shortly after your exposure does. 

What are the symptoms of ethmoid sinusitis?

Because ethmoid sinusitis may stem from an underlying condition — such as a cold or allergies — it may be difficult to determine whether or not you have it or a different type of sinus or respiratory problem. The illness also shares symptoms with similar conditions. A sinus specialist will be able to diagnose ethmoid sinusitis and rule out other possibilities. 

Ethmoid sinusitis symptoms include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Sore throat
  • Nausea
  • Loss of taste
  • Bad breath
  • Persistent cough
  • Thick, yellow and/or green mucus discharge
  • Stuffy nose
  • Painful and/or swollen sinuses
  • Low fever
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Fatigue
  • Pressure behind the nose and/or eyes
  • Headaches

Many patients tend to dismiss the possibility of ethmoid sinusitis because it so often mirrors other illnesses. If symptoms persist or worsen, it’s a good idea to seek out medical attention to ensure you receive the proper care as an untreated sinus infection can lead to permanent physical damage.

Is ethmoid sinusitis serious?

The vast majority of ethmoid sinusitis cases go away on their own as everything usually clears up within four to 12 weeks with over-the-counter treatment options. However, when you start experiencing them repeatedly or your symptoms become unmanageable, it may be a sign that you’re suffering from chronic sinusitis. 

Chronic sinusitis can be an incredibly serious illness with potentially damaging consequences if left unaddressed. 

Problems related to chronic sinusitis that may arise can include the following:

  • Decreased sense of smell
  • Growths (known as “mucoceles”)
  • Eye infection (orbital cellulitis)
  • Meningitis
  • Brain abscesses 
  • Sinus thrombosis and other blood clots

Remember, sinus infections are contagious. Even if you yourself can fight off the issue on your own with over-the-counter medications, those who catch it from you may not be as lucky. Make sure to take precautions like washing your hands, keeping your distance, and perhaps masking up to help prevent the spread.

Ethmoid sinusitis treatment

Most cases of ethmoid sinusitis are treatable at home with over-the-counter medications. If you’re unable to relieve symptoms yourself, it’s a good idea to speak with a sinus specialist and see which prescriptions will work best for your needs. 

Depending on your individual circumstances, your ethmoid sinusitis treatment may include the following:

  • Nasal spray
  • Pain relievers 
  • Decongestants
  • Nasal steroids
  • Antibiotics
  • Antihistamines
  • Balloon sinuplasty 

If your instance of ethmoid sinusitis began with a different illness, your doctor may opt to treat the underlying condition as well.

How do you treat ethmoid sinusitis naturally?

Many people struggling with ethmoid sinusitis understandably want to incorporate natural remedies into their treatment plan since over-the-counter medications have dosage limitations. Here are some examples of natural remedies you can try:

  • Steamy shower or bath with peppermint or eucalyptus oil or bath salts
  • Humidifier
  • Saline wash or irrigation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Chrysanthemum tea with honey
  • Staying hydrated
  • Foods with anti-inflammatory ingredients like cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric
  • Apple cider vinegar or lemon (these thin your mucus)
  • Chicken noodle soup 

As with many natural remedies, these will help relieve the pain associated with your symptoms, but they won’t cure the underlying condition. Before taking any supplements or other homeopathic options, make sure to consult with your doctor to make sure there are no potentially harmful interactions with other medications you may be taking.

Get expert help for ethmoid sinusitis at Kaplan Sinus Relief

Kaplan Sinus Relief’s team of specialists is on hand to provide any intervention necessary to alleviate your ethmoid sinusitis. Whether you need advice on the best over-the-counter treatments for your particular case or would like to explore the long-lasting relief option of balloon sinuplasty, we’ve got all your options covered. 

Schedule an appointment today and get your ethmoid sinusitis professionally addressed. 

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