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Ear Nose and Throat

Sinusitis

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is inflammation or swelling of the lining of the sinuses. The tissues that line the sinuses contain cells that produce mucus, which under healthy conditions, drains naturally. When that drainage is blocked, mucus can back up into the sinuses and lead to sinusitis.

What causes sinusitis?

Tobacco exposure, nasal allergies, viral upper respiratory infections, or structural abnormalities such as a deviated septum can all lead to sinusitis. When swelling and mucus block the sinus drainage pathways, it creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and cause a sinus infection.

What are the common symptoms of sinusitis?

  • Pressure or pain in the face (cheeks, forehead, around eyes, ears) Sinus headache
  • Nasal congestion
  • Loss of smell
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the upper teeth

What are the types of sinusitis?

  • Acute sinusitis often begins with a cold caused by a virus. Symptoms can last up to a month. When symptoms persist without worsening for less than 7-10 days it is presumed to be a viral infection. When the symptoms persist more than 7-10 days it is more likely to be a bacterial infection and can be treated with antibiotics.
  • Subacute sinusitis is defined by persistent symptoms up to 3 months and may require multiple courses of antibiotics.
  • When symptoms continue for 3 months or longer, the classification becomes chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis can be challenging to treat because many things can cause long-term inflammation. If medical therapy alone does not resolve the problem, a CT scan may be recommended to see if a procedure or surgery is indicated.
  • Recurrent acute sinusitis means you have had four or more episodes of acute sinusitis within a year.

How is sinusitis diagnosed?

Sinusitis is diagnosed based on your symptoms, medical history and physical exam. Your ENT may examine your nose with an endoscope to look for inflammation, drainage, polyps, or other abnormalities. When sinusitis fails to respond to medical treatment, a CT scan may be recommended to look at the structure of the sinus passageways and see if a procedure or surgery may be indicated.

What are the treatments for sinusitis?

Initial treatment may include saline sinus rinse with a neti pot (using distilled water and not tap water), over the counter decongestants, and pain medications.

When symptoms do not resolve, you should contact Fayetteville Otolaryngology to schedule an appointment where your doctor may recommend allergy management strategies or prescribe antibiotics for a bacterial infection.

Fayetteville Otolaryngology is a Center of Excellence for sinus care. We offer a comprehensive approach to managing nasal and sinus disorders. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


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