Sinusitis, often called a sinus infection, refers to inflammation in the sinus cavities, and is among the most common conditions affecting persons in the United States.  It is estimated that at least 37 million people experience sinusitis every year in the United States.

Sinusitis is generally considered either acute, with symptoms occurring for approximately 2-4 weeks, or chronic, with symptoms ongoing for at least 8 weeks, if not longer (may occur for several months or even years.)  In the past, it was generally recognized that sinusitis was generally due to infection from bacteria that were normally present in the sinuses, and while bacteria certainly can cause sinusitis, it is now recognized that inflammation in the sinuses plays an important role as well.

Sinusitis generally results from an obstruction (blockage) in the nasal cavity or sinus passages.  This blockage may occur from a viral infection (a cold); nasal polyps; ongoing nasal allergy, which results in inflammation in the nasal cavity, or deviations of the nasal septum.

The symptoms seen with sinusitis can vary from patient to patient, and also vary depending on whether the sinusitis is acute or chronic.  Symptoms may include one or more of the following: nasal congestion, nasal discharge, postnasal drip, loss of your ability to smell, fever, fatigue and cough.

Treatment of sinusitis includes patient education, the use of a variety of medications, along with a search for an underlying explanation for the sinusitis.  Generally, when sinusitis occurs, there is frequently an underlying cause, and it is important to identify that cause so that future episodes can be prevented.  For example, patients with uncontrolled allergies may experience frequent sinusitis episodes, and these patients uniformly experience fewer sinusitis episodes once their underlying allergic condition is properly diagnosed and treated.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a sinus infection, or feel you experience sinus infections frequently, contact the Allergy and Asthma Center today!

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