An Overview of Sinusitis
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis?
People with chronic sinusitis may have the following symptoms for 8 weeks or more:
- Facial congestion/fullness
- A nasal obstruction/blockage
- Pus in the nasal cavity
- Nasal discharge/discolored postnasal drainage
Additional symptoms of chronic sinusitis may include:
- Bad breath
- Dental pain
How Is Sinusitis Diagnosed?
To diagnose sinusitis, your doctor will review your symptoms and give you a physical examination.
The exam may include the doctor feeling and pressing your sinuses for tenderness. He or she may also tap your teeth to see if you have an inflamed paranasal sinus.
Other diagnostic tests to assess the potential causes for sinusitis may include a mucus culture, nasal endoscopy (see below), X-rays, allergy testing, CT scan of the sinuses, or blood work.
What Is Nasal Endoscopy?
A nasal endoscope is a special tube-like instrument equipped with tiny lights and cameras used to examine the interior of the nose and sinus drainage areas.
A nasal endoscopy allows your doctor to view the accessible areas of the sinus drainage pathways. Your nasal cavity may first be numbed using a local anesthetic (some cases do not require any anesthetic). A rigid or flexible endoscope is then placed in position to view the middle bone structure of the nasal cavity.
The procedure is used to observe signs of obstruction as well as detect nasal polyps hidden from routine nasal exam. During the endoscopic exam, the doctor also looks for any structural abnormalities that would cause you to suffer from recurrent sinusitis.
How Is Sinusitis Treated?
Treatment for sinusitis depends on its severity.
- Acute sinusitis. If you have a simple sinus infection, your health care provider may recommend treatment with decongestants like Sudafed and steam inhalations alone. Use of nonprescription decongestant nasal drops or sprays may also be effective in controlling symptoms. However, these medicines should not be used beyond their recommended use, usually four to five days, or they may actually increase congestion. If antibiotics are given, they are usually given for 10 to 14 days. With treatment, the symptoms usually disappear and antibiotics are no longer required.
- Chronic sinusitis. Warm moist air may alleviate sinus congestion. A vaporizer or inhaling steam from a pan of boiling water (removed from heat) may also help. Warm compresses are useful to relieve pain in the nose and sinuses. Saline nose drops are also safe for home use. Use of nonprescription decongestant nasal drops or sprays might be effective in controlling symptoms, however, they should not be used beyond their recommended use. Antibiotics or oral steroids may also be prescribed.