Sinusitis Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Nasal blockage, thick yellow or green nasal drainage, headache, cough (especially worse at night), fatigue and loss of sense of smell are common symptoms. These conditions are generally preceded either by about a week of allergies or symptoms similar to an upper respiratory infection.

Inflammation of the lining of the sinuses is called sinusitis. Usually rhinitis (inflammation of the lining of the nose) coexists. So the condition is called rhinosinusitis.

Thorough history and examination point to the diagnosis and is confirmed by CT scan of the sinuses. Normal sinus X-rays can be done but are not very accurate. CT scan can also evaluate the anatomy of the sinuses and any need for surgery.

Acute bacterial sinusitis is treated with antibiotics for about 2 weeks. Nasal washes, expectorants and nasal saline sprays are used additionally to break up the mucus.

Chronic sinusitis is treated with a longer course of antibiotics for about 3-4 weeks. Nasal corticosteroids may be helpful in chronic sinusitis.

Treating viral infections aggressively with expectorants and decongestants and nasal saline washes can help prevent bacterial sinus infections. Underlying environmental allergies make one prone to sinus infections. Allergy testing and appropriate treatment of environmental allergies can help prevent sinus infections. Allergy immunotherapy has been shown to help prevent sinus infections.

Q: How common is sinusitis?
Acute rhinosinusitis is the most common health complaint and affects about 24 million patients per year in the United States.

Q: What are the different types of sinusitis?
Sinusitis may be acute, recurrent, subacute or chronic. Acute: a new infection that may last up to 4 weeks Recurrent: four or more separate episodes of acute sinusitis that occur within 1 year Subacute sinusitis: an infection that lasts between 4 to 12 weeks Chronic sinusitis: signs and symptoms that last for more than 12 weeks

Q: What triggers acute sinusitis?
Acute bacterial sinusitis is usually preceded by a "cold" but some times can occur after increased allergies.

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