Sinusitis


Acute bacterial sinusitis is an infection of the sinus cavities caused by bacteria. It is usually preceded by a cold, allergy attack, or irritation by environmental pollutants. It is estimated that 37 million people are afflicted with sinusitis each year. This number may be higher since the symptoms of bacterial sinusitis often mimic those of colds or allergies, and many never see a doctor or proper diagnosis and treatment with an antibiotic.

Bacterial sinusitis is different from a cold or allergy in that it requires a doctor’s diagnosis and treatment with an antibiotic in order to cure the infection and prevent future problems.

A cold or allergy attack will cause your sinuses to become inflamed and unable to drain, leading to congestion and infection. Your doctor’s method of treatment may include a sinus x-ray or obtaining a sample of your nasal discharge to test for bacteria.

Sinus infections that occur frequently or last three months or more may be chronic sinusitis. Symptoms may be less severe than those of acute sinusitis, and irreversible changes can occur which may require surgery to repair.

Allergy to fungi can also cause sinusitis. This is more often chronic than acute infection.

 

 






What to Watch For

Cold Symptoms

If you suffer from three or more of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor.

Sign / Symptom
Facial Pressure/Pain  
Duration of Illness 
Nasal Discharge  
Fever 
Headache  
Pain in Upper Teeth
Bad Breath
Coughing
Nasal Congestion 
Sneezing
Cold 
Sometimes
Under 10 Days
Thick, Whitish or Thin
Sometimes 
Sometimes
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes

Allergy Symptoms

If you suffer from three or more of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor.

Sign / Symptom
Facial Pressure/Pain
Duration of Illness
Nasal Discharge
Fever
Headache
Pain in Upper Teeth
Bad Breath
Coughing
Nasal Congestion
Sneezing
Allergy
Sometimes
Varies
Clear, Thin, Watery
No
Sometimes
No
No
Sometimes
Sometimes
Sometimes

 

Sinusitis Symptoms

If you suffer from three or more of the following symptoms, you should see your doctor.

Sign / Symptom
Facial Pressure/Pain
Duration of Illness
Nasal Discharge
Fever
Headache
Pain in Upper Teeth
Bad Breath
Coughing
Nasal Congestion
Sneezing
Sinusitis
Yes
Over 10-14 Days
Thick, Yellow Green
Sometimes
Sometimes
Sometimes
Sometimes
Sometimes
Yes
No

 

Sinus Surgery

Surgery should be considered only after all medical treatment has failed or there is a nasal obstruction that cannot be corrected with medications. Your doctor will discuss with you the surgery best suited for you and your need. Certain types of sinus disease can best be treated with functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS). With an endoscope, the surgeon can look directly into the nose, while at the same time removing diseased tissue and polyps and clearing the narrow channels between the sinuses.

Have realistic expectations for results, recovery and post-operative care before going into surgery. Good results require not only good surgical techniques, but a cooperative effort between the patient and physician throughout the healing process.

Preventing Sinusitis

 

To avoid developing sinusitis during a cold or allergy attack, keep your sinuses clear by:

  • Using an oral decongestant or a short course of nasal spray decongestant.
  • Gently blowing your nose, blocking one nostril while blowing through the other.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids to keep nasal discharge thin.
  • Avoiding air travel. Use a nasal spray decongestant before takeoff to prevent blockage.
  • Avoiding contact with things that trigger allergy attacks.

 


Allergy Testing


Allergy testing, followed by appropriate allergy treatments, may increase your tolerance of allergy-causing substances.