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Alternative namesAcute sinusitis; Sinus infection; Sinusitis - acute
Sinusitis refers to inflammation of the sinuses. This is generally caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection.
The sinuses are air-filled spaces around the forehead, cheeks, and eyes that are lined with mucous membranes. Healthy sinuses are sterile (meaning that they contain no bacteria or other organisms) and open, allowing mucus to drain and air to circulate.
When inflamed, the sinuses become blocked with mucus and can become infected. Each year, over 30 million adults and children get sinusitis.
Sinusitis can be acute (lasting anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks) or chronic, with symptoms lingering much longer.
See also chronic sinusitis .
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Sinusitis can occur from one of these conditions:
When the sinus openings become blocked and mucous accumulates, this becomes a great breeding ground for bacteria and other organisms.
Sinusitis usually follows respiratory infections, such as colds , or an allergic reaction. Some people never get sinusitis, and others develop sinusitis frequently.
People more likely to get frequent sinusitis include those with cystic fibrosis or a weakened immune system (such as people with HIV and those receiving chemotherapy).
Other risks for developing sinusitis include:
Hospitalization, especially if the reason you are in the hospital is related to a head injury or you needed a tube inserted into the nose (for example, a nasogastric tube from your nose to your stomach)
Cystic fibrosis is one of a number of diseases that prevent the cilia from working properly. Other such diseases that put you at increased risk for sinusitis include Kartagener's syndrome and immotile cilia syndrome.
The classic symptoms of acute sinusitis usually follow a cold that does not improve, or one that worsens after 5 to 7 days of symptoms. They include:
Your doctor will test for sinusitis by:
Other tests that might be considered include:
However, these tests are relatively insensitive for detecting sinusitis, and are often considered unnecessary.
A CT scan of the sinuses is a much better test to help diagnose sinusitis. If sinusitis is thought to involve tumor or fungal infections, an MRI of the sinuses may be necessary.
If you have chronic or recurrent sinusitis, further laboratory evaluation may be necessary to look for an underlying disorder. This may involve sweat chloride tests for cystic fibrosis, ciliary function tests, blood tests for HIV or other tests for immunodeficiency, allergy testing, or nasal cytology (checking the cells in the nasal secretions).
Try the following measures to help reduce congestion in your sinuses:
Sinus infections are usually curable with self-care measures and medical treatment. If you are having recurrent attacks, you should be evaluated for underlying causes (such as nasal polyps or another structural problem).
Although very rare, complications that may arise include:
Calling your health care provider
Call your doctor if:
The best way to prevent sinusitis is to avoid or quickly treat flus and colds:
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT