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What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is an infection in the sinuses, resulting in congestion, cough, thick discharge, and pressure in the head and face. It typically occurs when something stops mucus from draining from the sinuses.

Sinusitis can come in two forms: acute sinusitis and chronic sinusitis. In acute sinusitis, the infection will resolve in less than four weeks. In some cases, a patient may develop a bacterial infection as a result of acute sinusitis.

Symptoms of Sinusitis

The signs of sinusitis can vary from one patient to the next. In general, sinusitis symptoms include:

  • Yellow-green nasal discharge that is unusually thick
  • Postnasal drip
  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Toothache
  • Pressure in the face and forehead

In addition to any of the symptoms above, those with acute sinusitis may also develop a fever. In rare cases with severe sinusitis symptoms, a patient may also develop complications that can affect the health of the eyes and the brain.


Sinusitis vs. COVID

Distinguishing between sinusitis and COVID can be difficult since both conditions share many symptoms. The congestion in sinusitis can also take away the patient’s sense of taste or smell, a key symptom of COVID.

The symptoms of COVID that are not present in sinusitis include body and muscle aches, chills, and shortness of breath, as well as excessive fatigue.

Not sure which illness you have? Consult with a physician immediately and consider getting tested for COVID-19.


How is Sinusitis Treated?

Most cases of acute sinusitis caused by a viral infection resolve on their own. There are several medications, however, that can ameliorate a patient’s symptoms in the meantime, including:

  • Decongestants
  • Nasal sprays
  • OTC analgesics

Patients may also consider using a sinus saline rinse to cleanse and soothe the sinus passages. Breathing hot, moist air can also help soothe the nasal passages.

What to do for sinusitis caused by a bacterial infection? In that scenario, the best treatment of sinusitis is antibiotics. Sinusitis related to a fungus may require a prescribed antifungal medication. Finally, intranasal corticosteroid sprays monitored by a doctor may be the right choice for those with recurring sinusitis.

If a patient has chronic rhinitis related to allergies that may be exacerbating or causing sinusitis, threatening the allergies and avoiding triggering allergens will also be necessary.

In rare cases, endoscopic sinus surgery may be necessary to clear the sinus passages and resolve the conditions. If you are considering surgical interventions, consult with a board-certified allergist or immunologist.

When to See An Allergist

Patients with symptoms of sinusitis should see an allergist if they believe that existing or suspected allergies are leading to acute or chronic sinusitis. Anyone with symptoms of sinusitis should see a doctor if the condition lasts for longer than 10 days, if a fever is present, or if the condition is interfering with one’s quality of life.


FAQs about Sinusitis

Can Sinusitis Be Prevented?

Those with allergies or asthma can work to prevent sinusitis by treating their existing conditions. Avoiding allergens and triggers such as stress can also help prevent sinusitis.

What’s the Best Over-the-Counter Medication for Sinusitis?

Steroid nasal sprays, such as fluticasone and mometasone can help address the nasal congestion associated with sinusitis. Those with allergies can also benefit from OTC antihistamines.

Is Sinusitis Contagious?

Since most cases of sinusitis are the result of a viral infection, they can be contagious. Patients with sinusitis should adhere to good hygiene skills, including washing hands well and regularly.

How Long Does Sinusitis Last?

Acute cases of sinusitis can last anywhere from 10 days to a month. Chronic cases can last longer than three months.