What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the membrane lining any sinus, especially one of the paranasal sinuses. Acute sinusitis is a short-term condition that responds to antibiotics and decongestants. Chronic sinusitis is characterized by four recurrences of acute sinusitis, or symptoms lasting greater than 3 months.

Acute sinusitis

Acute sinusitis symptoms include:

  • Facial pressure/pain
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Nasal discharge
  • Diminished sense of smell
  • Cough

Additionally, fever, bad breath, fatigue and dental pain may be symptoms of other sinus issues. Most of these episodes are viral in origin. Bacterial infection might be present if symptoms worsen after 5 days, persist after 10 days, or if the severity of symptoms seem out of proportion to a viral infection.

Answer this questionnaire if you suspect that you may have acute sinusitis.

How is acute sinusitis treated?

If bacterial sinusitis is diagnosed, treatment usually involves the use of antibiotics for 10 to 14 days, in conjunction with saline sprays, decongestants, mucoevacuants, and pain medications.

Chronic sinusitis

Chronic sinusitis is defined by symptoms lasting greater than 12 weeks. These symptoms suggest a chronic sinusitis problem:

  • Facial pain/pressure
  • Facial congestion/fullness
  • Nasal obstruction/blockage
  • Thick nasal discharge
  • Post-nasal drainage
  • Pus in the nasal cavity
  • Occasionally, fever

Sometimes, allergy problems can resemble chronic sinus problems.

How is chronic sinusitis treated?

In addition to antibiotics, tests such as a CT scan or MRI of the sinuses may be ordered by the physician to diagnose and treat chronic sinusitis. In some cases, surgery to clean and drain the sinuses may be needed. Surgical repair of a deviated septum or nasal obstruction may prevent chronic sinusitis from relapsing.

Additional information

Learn more about symptoms and treatment of sinusitis at these links: