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Acute Sinusitis

Sinusitis is an inflammation, or swelling, of the tissue lining the sinuses. This article describes those at risk, signs and symptoms, diagnosis and treatments. The symptoms of sinusitis are similar to those of colds and nasal allergies, which makes the diagnosis difficult.


    What is acute sinusitis?

    Acute sinusitis is a short-term sinus infection. The sinuses are four paired cavities (spaces) in the head. They are connected by narrow channels. The sinuses make thin mucus that drains out of the channels of the nose, cleaning the nose. Typically filled with air, the sinuses can become blocked by fluid. When this happens, they can become infected.

    What causes acute sinusitis?

    Acute sinusitis is often caused by a common cold or allergies. It can also be caused by a bacterial infection or fungus that causes the sinuses to swell and become blocked.

    What are the symptoms of acute sinusitis?

    The main symptoms include:

    • Facial pain/pressure/tenderness
    • Stuffy nose
    • Thick yellow or green nasal discharge
    • Loss of smell and taste
    • Congestion/cough

    You may also experience:

    • Fever
    • Ear pain
    • Headache
    • Tiredness
    • Toothache

Diagnosis and Tests

    How is acute sinusitis diagnosed?

    Acute sinusitis is usually diagnosed by discussing all of your symptoms and medical history with your doctor. In a physical examine, your doctor will look at the ears, nose, and throat to check for any blockage, swelling, and drainage. If allergies are suspected, your doctor will have an allergy test performed to determine what allergens might be the cause of your sinusitis.

Management and Treatement

    How is acute sinusitis treated?

    Acute sinusitis is typically a short-term condition that is not too severe. For many people, little or no treatment is needed. However, if the cause is a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be needed. Other treatment options include:

    • Nasal sprays and decongestants
    • Rest and drinking extra fluids
    • Over-the-counter pain relievers (to ease symptoms)
    • Nasal saline irrigation

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