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Sinusitis - What Happens

There are two types of sinusitis: acute (sudden onset) and chronic (long-term). Sinusitis often develops after a cold or viral infection. Most sinus infections improve on their own, but sometimes they develop into a bacterial infection—swelling, inflammation, and mucus production caused by the cold can lead to blockage in the nasal passages, which may encourage the growth of bacteria.

Acute sinusitis, whether viral or bacterial, may develop into chronic inflammation or infections that may last 12 weeks or longer. Chronic sinusitis can lead to permanent changes in the mucous membranes that line the sinuses. As a result of these changes, you may become prone to having more sinus infections that may become more difficult to treat.

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Complications of sinusitis (such as an infection of the facial bones called osteomyelitis) or meningitis are relatively rare. But when complications occur, they may be life-threatening and often require extensive medical or surgical treatment.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 24, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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