Sinusitis - Topic Overview
What is sinusitis?
inflammation of the lining of the sinus cavities.
These are hollow spaces in your cheeks and around your eyes. Sinus infections
often follow a cold and cause pain and pressure in your head and face.
Sinusitis can be either acute (sudden) or chronic (long-term). With
the infection or inflammation does
not completely go away for 8 weeks or more.
What causes sinusitis?
Sinusitis can be caused by
The same viruses that cause the common cold cause most
cases of sinusitis.
When the lining of the sinus cavities gets
inflamed from a viral infection like a cold, it swells. This is viral
sinusitis. The swelling can block the normal drainage of fluid from the sinuses
into the nose and throat. If the fluid cannot drain and builds up over time,
bacteria or fungi (plural of fungus) may start to grow in it. These bacterial
or fungal infections can cause more swelling and pain. They are more likely to
last longer, get worse with time, and become chronic.
allergies or other problems that block the nasal passages and allow fluid to
build up in the sinuses can also lead to sinusitis.
See a picture
of normal facial sinuses and a picture of a
blocked sinus .
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of
sinusitis are a runny or stuffy nose and pain and pressure in your head and
face. You may also have a yellow or green
drainage or drip from your nose or down the back of
your throat (postnasal discharge). Where you feel the pain and tenderness
depends on which sinus is affected.
Other common symptoms of
sinusitis may include:
- A headache.
- A cough that produces
- A fever.
- Pain in your
- A reduced sense of taste or smell.
How is sinusitis diagnosed?
Your doctor can tell
if you have sinusitis by asking questions about your past health and doing a
physical exam. You probably won't need any other tests.
How is it treated?
Viral sinus infections usually
go away on their own within 10 to 14 days. Antibiotics don't work for viral
infections. But there are some things you can do at home to help relieve your
- Drink plenty of fluids.
over-the-counter pain relievers and decongestant pills
to help relieve the pain and pressure in your head and face.
- Put a
hot, damp towel or gel pack on your face for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, several
times a day.
- Breathe warm, moist air from a steamy shower, a hot
bath, or a sink filled with hot water.
- Use saltwater nose drops to keep the nasal passages moist and use saline nasal washes to help keep the nasal passages
open and wash out mucus and bacteria.