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Your runny nose is supposed to protect you from infection, but when the mucus becomes thick and gluey, it turns into a harvest for bacteria.

In fact, the infection's first attack on your body is to rubberize snot so it can establish a beachhead inside your face. Hollow air cavities surrounding your eyes and nose normally work like bubble-pack to protect your eyes from blunt trauma, but once they have been sealed off by inflammation, they become a sanctuary for germs to breed inside your head for weeks or months. You experience ear pain, dizziness, low grade fever and headache. Because fluid has filled your internal ear canal, the world sounds far away, like you have a bucket over your head.

Even antibiotics have limited effect. Since the drugs often are poor at penetrating the pus-filled sinuses, you may have to take the drugs steadily for weeks to get the drug levels to a point where they can kill the infection -- a scenario that often leads to drug-resistant infection. And of course weeks of antibiotics often lead to unwanted complications of yeast infections and diarrhea cause by the havoc of wiping out the helpful bacteria that line your digestive tract.

For must of us, the infection is eventually controlled when the sinus cavities finally open up, draining the foul infected syrup inside. That is likely to turn into a cough and sore throat, but at least the headache will go away.

Some are driven to consider sinus surgery, but that radical option only make sense for a tiny proportion of sufferers. Others turn to "nettie pots" to dry to irrigate their swollen sinuses with warm water -- a self-treatment plan that occasionally causes amoebic meningitis.

For most of us, sinusitis is just one of those miseries that will help remind you how little you appreciate the good health we normally take for granted. At least it's not likely to kill you! For something else that just might, try clicking the "Try Again" button below.

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