Everything you know about sinusitis


Sinusitis is a common inflammation of the paranasal sinuses, the cavities that produce the mucus needed to effectively work through the nasal passages.

It can be acute or chronic, and it can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, allergies, or even an autoimmune reaction.

While painful and unpleasant, sinusitis frequently goes away without medical intervention. Though, you should see the doctor if the symptoms last for longer than 7 to 10 days, or if there is a fever or a headache.

Fast facts on sinusitis

Here are some key points about sinusitis. More detail is in the main article. They have 4 pairs of sinuses, hollow spaces behind the facial bones. Allergies, bacteria, or a virus may be causing sinus inflammation, or sinusitis. It usually goes away without treatment, but sometimes it requires medical attention. Chronic sinusitis develops in excess of 12 weeks.

What is sinusitis?

A sinus within the body is a hollow space. There are many types of sinuses, but sinusitis affects the paranasal sinuses, the spaces that lead to the nasal cavity behind the face. The paranasal sinuses have the same lining of the mucous membrane as the nose. They form a slimy secretion called mucus. This keeps the nasal passages moist and traps particles and germs which are dirt. Sinusitis occurs when the mucus builds up and the sinuses get inflamed. Doctors often refer to sinusitis as rhinosinusitus, as sinus inflammation almost always occurs with rhinitis-known nose inflammation.


Symptoms vary with the duration of the infection and its severity. Acute sinusitis may be diagnosed if the patient has two or more of the following symptoms and a dense, green or yellow nasal discharge. facial pain and pressure blocked nose nasal discharge reduced sense of smell congestion cough

In more advanced cases, the following symptoms may also be present:

fever halitosis, or foul-smelling breath tiredness toothache headache
Doctor can diagnose chronic sinusitis if these symptoms persist for 12 weeks or longer.


The doctor can diagnose chronic sinusitis if these symptoms continue for 12 weeks or longer.

Viruses: For adults 90 percent of cases of sinusitis are caused by a virus Bacteria: In adults, 1 case in 10 is caused by bacteria Pollutants: Chemicals or airborne irritants can cause mucous build-up Fungi: As in allergic fungal sinusitis (AFS), the sinuses either respond to fungi in the air, or they are invaded by fungi, as in chronic indolent sinusitis.

Risk factors

The following may increase a person’s risk of developing sinusitis:

previous respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold Nasal polyps, or small nasal growths which can lead to inflammation Weakened immunity, e.g. due to a health condition or some sort of treatment An allergic reaction to things like pollen, dust and animal hair For example, structural problems in the nose include a deviated septum The septum is the cartilage and the bone which divides the nose into two nostrils. When this is bent to one side, it can lead to repeated infections and inflammation either through injury or growth.


Sinusitis often includes nasal swelling and mucus buildup, but different types occur and they may last for different lengths of time.

The different types are:

Acute sinusitis: This lasts up to four weeks and is the most common type.
Subacute sinusitis: The symptoms last for between 4 and 12 weeks longer than normal acute period.
Chronic sinusitis: After 12 weeks, symptoms continue, or return continuously. More invasive treatment may be required, and probably surgery.
Time of recovery and treatment depends upon the type of sinusitits.


A doctor will conduct a physical exam and ask the patient what their symptoms are. Usually, that is enough to make a diagnosis.

The doctor may examine the nasal cavity visually using a light source, or a small portable device with an attached light called an otoscope, which may also be used to examine the ears.
When symptoms persist, a doctor may refer a person with sinusitis to a specialist in the head, nose, and throat (ENT) for a closer examination. We can insert an endoscope into the nose, a small, thin, flexible tube attached to a light and camera. That can provide more detailed pictures.


Treatment depend on how long the condition lasts.

Acute and subacute sinusitis

Most acute cases will resolve without treatment.
Sinusitis can be painful, however, and people often use home remedies and over – the-counter (OTC) medications to alleviate symptoms.
In the following cases, the person should see a doctor:
Symptoms persist longer than 7 to 10 days.
There is a fever higher than 101.6° Fahrenheit, or around 38.7° Celsius.
There is a bad headache that does not resolve with over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
Visual disturbances occur, or there is swelling around the eyes.
Symptoms continue after taking prescribed antibiotics by a physician.

If there is a bacterial cause for the sinusitis, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics. If symptoms continue after the drug course is over, the patient should go back to the doctor.

Chronic sinusitis

Chronic sinusitis is typically not bacterial in nature so it is unlikely that antibiotics can relieve symptoms. The antifungal drugs may be used to treat a fungal infection.
Corticosteroid sprays can help in recurrent cases, but these require medical supervision and prescription.
In allergic sinusitis, chronic sinusitis can be lessened by treating allergies with shots or by reducing and avoiding exposure to allergens such as animal dander or mold.


The following may help prevent sinusitis:

Practice good hand hygiene.
Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.
Keep vaccinations up to date.
Stay away from people with colds and other respiratory infections.
Use a humidifier to moisten the air at home, and keep it clean. A selection of humidifiers is available for purchase online.
Maintain air conditioning units to prevent mold and dust from collecting.
Where possible, avoid allergens.

Home remedies

Less serious or chronic cases of sinusitis can be treated at home without the need to visit a doctor.
To allow proper drainage these remedies can reduce pain and unblock the sinuses.
Home remedies for sinusitis include:
Nasal irrigation: Also known as sinus irrigation, sinus rinse, or sinus lavage, this home procedure includes rinsing and clearing the nasal passages with salt water or a saline solution.
Warm compress: gently applying a warm compress to the affected areas of the face can reduce some swelling and discomfort.
Painkillers: These can reduce symptoms of fever and pain.
Inhalation of steam: Hot breathing, moist air can provide relief from congestion. At home, steam from a bowl of hot water can help unblock the sinuses, possibly with a few drops of essential menthol or eucalyptus oil. Essential oils should not be applied directly or swallowed.
Decongestant tablets and sprays: These can reduce swelling and allow drainage of the sinuses. Patients should not use sprays for more than 3 days. Decongestant tablets and sprays are available to purchase online.
Hydration and rest: Regular drinking of fluids and preventing over-exertion may help the symptoms move through.

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