How Is Sinusitis Diagnosed?

A doctor will usually diagnose sinusitis based on the symptoms you report and the ones that he or she observes upon examination. Unfortunately, x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) do not give an accurate picture of the sinuses. However, some doctors find an x-ray of the head called a CT scan to be useful.

For more information about CT scan, go to CT Scan.

  • The first thing the doctor will do is ask about your symptoms, such as headaches, facial or mouth pain, mucus drainage that is yellow or green, swelling around the eyes, and fever.
  • Sometimes, the doctor will simply massage or tap the areas of the face to determine which sinus openings are tender to the touch.
  • Some doctors use tests to determine breathing capacity and smelling ability to make an accurate diagnosis.

If the symptoms of sinusitis do not subside with treatment by a family doctor, a more thorough examination by a specialist in nasal disorders, called an otolaryngologist, may be necessary.

A specialist may choose to use an endoscope, which is a thin, lighted instrument inserted into the nostrils so that any blockages in the sinuses can be seen.

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