Sinus Infection 101

A sinus infection (better known as sinusitis) is a respiratory condition characterized by symptoms such as nasal inflammation and congestion, thick yellow-to-greenish mucus, and facial pain. This health problem is usually caused by a virus, but both bacteria and fungi may occasionally trigger such symptoms. In most cases, the symptom alleviates within 7 to 10 days. When needed, sinus infection treatment usually includes pain relievers, decongestants, nasal irrigation, or even antibiotics.

The terms “sinusitis” is actually a medical term used to describe the inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, both swelling and irritation. There are things that can cause sinusitis, but mostly it is caused by an infection, which is why you can hear the term “sinusitis” and “sinus infection” used interchangeably.

What Causes Infection To The Sinus?

Acute sinus infection is usually caused by a viral infection, which is also known as acute viral sinusitis. Such virus causes common cold symptoms as well.

There are also other common causes of sinus infection, which includes:

An infection caused by bacteria (called as acute bacterial sinusitis), which is usually a complication of viral sinusitis and other risk factors that triggers one’s chances of developing the infection, like allergies.

An infection cased by fungus (or fungal sinus infection – sinusitis)

Health experts once consider bacteria as the main cause of chronic infection in the sinus. What they’ve discovered, however, is that things are more complex than a regular infection. Up until today, researchers still continue to search for definite answers to pinpoint the exact cause of chronic sinusitis.

Health researchers on the other hand, know that some things increase the risk and likelihood for long-term sinus problems, particularly inflammation and swelling of the nasal passages and the failure of the sinuses to drain effectively.

Signs and Symptoms of Sinus Infection

There are different common signs and symptoms adults may experience because of sinusitis. But the most common symptoms that go alongside with sinus infection are:

Blockage or nasal congestion

Face pain or discomfort on the face when bending over

Mucus drainage (thick yellow-to-green mucus) which drains down the back of the throat or out the nose.

Tooth discomfort or tooth pain

Other symptoms of sinusitis, such as cough and fever, are less common, but still possible, depending on the severity of the condition.

Most of these symptoms develop as fast as the first day the person acquired the virus (only minor though) and worsens from 3rd to 6th day, and then alleviates within 7 to 10 days.

News on Flu: New Vaccine May Give Lifelong Protection

Flu season occurred early this year, especially in countries in the northern hemisphere, causing many people to scramble for annual flu shots. Well, experts say that  ritual may someday be history.

A vaccine has been developed out of mRNA (messenger RNA), a first for any infectious disease in the world. Its genetic makeup controls the secretion of proteins, but unlike its predecessors, the newly developed flu shot may work for life. Best thing about it is that, it may be produced quickly enough to stop flu pandemic.

When our immune system learns to recognize the key proteins of a flu strain called the HA and NA on the virus’ surface, we become immune to the flu virus. This happens either we receive one of the usual annual flu shots of which contained dead virus, or we have caught and fought off the specific strain.

Flu evolves and mutates constantly; this is why the World Health Organization study and predict which strain would be prevalent for the coming flu season and come up with a vaccine suited for that strain. We need this different flu shot every year to protect ourselves from the prevailing strain of flu virus. Of course, their recommendations can be wrong, even worse, a completely new strain may come up, and no one has a protection against it and may progress as a pandemic.

The Freeze-dried vaccine

Lothar Stitz, from Friedrich-Loeffler Institute in Riems Island, Germany, says the solution could be in the mRNA that controls the production of HA and NA in the virus, which can be mass-produced in a few weeks. The idea is to freeze-dry the mRNA into a powder without the need for refrigeration. Contrary to most vaccines today that has to be kept cool inside a refrigerator.

Immune cells will pick up injected mRNA, which translates into protein. The proteins are then recognized by the body as a foreign material, stimulating an immune response. As soon as the immune system is alerted, it can fight off the strain as soon as it encounters the virus.

Similar idea has been made using DNA-coded vaccines for flu proteins. However, it is very unlikely to be approved by the WHO, as it might mix into the human DNA and disrupt gene regulation.

Safety advantage

Unlike the DNA version, the mRNA is not a risk, as it can’t become part of the human genome. Bjarne Bogen from the University of Oslo, Norway, who’s working on a DNA vaccine for flu, says, “RNA probably has advantages over DNA as concerns safety.”

A true universal flu vaccine would promote immunity to proteins, which are the same for all strains of flu viruses, but which the virus normally hides from the immune system. The mRNA vaccine is still under several tests before it can deliver its promises safely. Until then, our best option is to still get the annual flu shot.



Surviving the Dreaded Flu Pandemic / How to avoid the flu

A flu epidemic is always a possibility, especially with the seasonal flu. But flu pandemic is on a different level. It is a flu infection of global scale and often causes the death of millions of people. We have recorded 2 deadly flu pandemics, the 1918 Spanish Flu and the 2009 Swine Flu, both caused by the dreaded H1N1 flu virus. And medical scientists are expecting the same virus to strike once again in the future. So how do you prepare for the coming flu pandemic?

Hygiene and Cleanliness
It is important to remember that the H1N1 virus is just like any other strand of influenza virus when it comes to how it spreads to people. The virus is spread through touch and from the discharges (cough and sneeze) of people infected by it. So always remember to wash your hands before getting them to your face and to cover your mouth and nose when going around with other people.

Eat healthy
Boosting your immune system will increase your chance of being able to survive the flu pandemic. This is a great contingency plan since we are prone to making mistakes such as missing a chance to clean our hands when we are busy doing things. Although healthy people still get infected by the flu virus that causes pandemics, they also have a much better chance of getting better than the unhealthy ones.

Avoid hospitals and clinics
If you have not gotten the flu virus then there is no need to go to clinics and hospitals that are filled with sick people. These places are exposed to the flu virus thanks to the hundreds and thousands of infected people going there to get a cure. The only exception for this is when you need to have a love one examined by a doctor. But be sure to wear protective masked when you go to hospitals and clinics.

Have a stock of supplies
Pandemics normally cause people to go on a panic buying. So when you see the signs of a flu pandemic start shopping for supplies and buy lots of them. Food, clean water, tools and other essentials must be prioritized early on before the chaos starts. When the panic begins you will not be among the crowd of people competing for supplies which can lead to violence.

Stay indoors
When you stock pile supplies be sure that you have enough to prevent you from going out to buy more. Getting exposed to other people during a flu pandemic is a sure way to get infected. So avoid going out of your house if you can. If that is not possible then you have to avoid other people when you go out.

These are the things that you have to do to survive the coming flu pandemic. And this information is based on experiences of people who have experienced and survived the previous flu pandemics. So have a hard copy of this list so when you see news of a possible pandemic waiting to happen you are well prepared for it.