The term sinus drainage describes a procedure for removing mucus and pus secreted by infected sinuses. A normal sinus cavity is filled with air and lined with fine hair-like structures called cilia which produce a substance called mucus. Mucus does not stay in the sinuses, but are drained through small openings at the back and middle portion of a person’s nose.
When sinuses get inflamed due to infections, allergies, or autoimmune issues, possible complications may arise ranging from headaches to life-threatening situations. In most cases, sinus drainage is necessary to remove the mucus and pus which can aggravate a sinus infection. The following are non-drug treatment approaches which seek to address sinus infection and sinus drainage:
• Taking adequate amounts of fluids to ensure the body is properly hydrated. This process is called hydration. Drinking warm liquids also encourage cilia movement which facilitates the elimination of mucus.
• When applied to the nose and sinus areas, hot compresses help improve blood circulation which in turn improves the movement of cilia.
• Steam inhalation brings moisture into the nasal cavity which facilitates blood circulation.
• Nasal irrigation with saline solution stimulates the cilia and helps remove thick phlegm which contains bacteria and allergens which cause nasal inflammation.
• Nasal sprays are enhanced saline solutions which might contain oxymetazoline and are sprayed into the nasal cavity.
Most traditional and non-drug treatments for sinus infection only provide symptomatic relief and may only be effective for minor cases. However, when bacterial infection or allergens are involved, a different treatment approach may be in order:
• Oral antibiotics are the most prescribed treatments which include amoxicillin, amoxicillin/clavulanate, clarithromycin, doxycycline, and floroquinolones.
• Decongestants provide relief by reducing the inflammation of mucus membranes. An example is pseudoephedrine.
• Mucolytics provide relief by thinning out the mucus produced by the sinuses for easier elimination.
• Analgesics provide relief by reducing pain. Examples include ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
• Corticosteroids reduce inflammation in the nasal passages. It may be injected or administered as a nasal spray. Examples are prednisone and beclomethasone.
For chronic and recurring cases of sinus inflammation, the surgical approach to sinus drainage is usually the last option. This normally occurs when antibiotic treatments fail to address the infection and the mucus and pus will not drain out. There are two surgical approaches:
• Antral puncture combined with antral washout. In this procedure a surgeon uses a pair of instruments called the tronchar and cannula which is utilized to cut a small opening within the nasal cavity of a person’s maxillary sinus. A small amount of pus is extracted and analyzed in the laboratory. The remaining pus is drained out using a syringe.
• Antral window procedure or intranasal antrostomy. In this procedure a surgeon creates a one-centimeter long hole inside the nasal cavity towards the patient’s maxillary sinus. A pus sample is then extracted for bacteria identification. In this procedure the hole made in the sinus is permanent.
Regardless of treatment, prevention is still the best option for sinus inflammation. Consultation should be made with a doctor as early as possible to prevent complications. Medical guidance is necessary to determine the best course of sinus drainage in most cases. Read here to understand more on sinus inflammation.