Sinusitis: Putting It All Together

Here is a summary of the important facts and information related to sinusitis:

  • Sinusitis is a common condition, usually easily treated, in which swelling blocks the opening of the sinuses through which mucus drains into the nose.
  • When mucus drainage is blocked, the result can be a feeling of pressure and pain, often accompanied by other symptoms such as fever and postnasal drip.
  • Sinusitis affects all age groups, but smokers and people with allergies or asthma are most likely to develop it.
  • Often starting as a cold, acute sinusitis typically lasts no more than 30 days and can be quite painful. Chronic sinusitis, on the other hand, can last much longer, but is usually more annoying than painful.
  • Sinusitis symptoms often mimic cold symptoms. If there is a fever, yellow or green nasal discharge, or if cold symptoms do not subside within 10 days, an infection is most likely present, and a doctor should be consulted immediately.
  • A doctor will diagnose sinusitis by taking a detailed medical history, discussing symptoms, and tapping or massaging sinus areas of the face. The doctor also may order breathing capacity tests or use an endoscope to see inside the sinuses.
  • Treatments for sinusitis include antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestant nasal sprays, steroid nasal sprays, saline nasal sprays or douches, cromolyn sodium nasal spray, allergy shots, and surgery.
  • A doctor will not recommend surgery unless symptoms have been chronic or frequent over a period of time without responding to medication, or are especially severe.
  • Decongestant nasal sprays and antihistamines should be taken for no more than a few days.
  • Steps should be taken to prevent recurrences of sinusitis so that it does not become chronic, which can cause damage to nasal tissue.

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