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Who Is Affected by Sinusitis

Viral sinusitis is extremely common. The exact number of cases is very difficult to estimate, because many cases are not reported to doctors and because doctors do not all define the illness the same way.

In the United States, about 24 million people (about 8% of the population) are thought to get sinusitis each year. Sinusitis occurs in people of all ages and affects males and females about equally.1

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Sinusitis sometimes develops after a common cold. In the U.S., children get about 6 to 8 colds a year. Adults get an average of 2 to 3 colds a year. Less than 2 out of 100 colds will develop into sinusitis.2

People develop sinusitis more often in the fall, winter, and spring. Sinusitis occurs more commonly in the midwestern and southern regions of the United States.

Although not a serious health problem, sinusitis leads to a high number of doctor visits, missed school and work days, and antibiotic prescriptions, all of which result in high medical costs. Prompt and appropriate treatment of colds and early sinus infections may help avoid complications, long-term (chronic) problems, and the costs that come with them.


  1. Slavin RG (2005). Allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, and sinusitis. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 6, chap. 12. New York: WebMD.

  2. DeMuri GP (2010). Sinusitis. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., pp. 839-849. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Donald R. Mintz, MD - Otolaryngology
Last Revised August 3, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 03, 2010
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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