An Overview of Acute Sinusitis

Board-certified in otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, oro-facial plastic surgery, and otolaryngic allergy, Dr. Frank Brettschneider is president of Port Huron ENT. Since 1990, Dr. Frank Brettschneider has helped numerous patients achieve relief from the full spectrum of ear, nose, and throat conditions, including sinusitis.

The sinuses are hollow cavities on either side of the nasal passages and in the forehead. They are normally filled with air and lined with a thin mucosal layer. Sinusitis occurs when these passages experience swelling and inflammation. This swelling prevents normal drainage of mucus, which then builds up and creates pressure, pain, and difficulty breathing through the nose. Patients may also have a cough and a discharge of a thick, yellow mucus from the nose or in the back of the throat.

Acute sinusitis comes on suddenly and may be triggered by a cold virus, allergies, bacteria, or a fungal infection. If caused by a virus, sinusitis will eventually run its course, and the goal of treatment is to ease symptoms with preparations such as saline nasal spray, corticosteroid nasal sprays, decongestants, and over-the-counter analgesics. Bacterial sinusitis is treated with antibiotics, and the rare fungal infection of the sinuses can be addressed with antifungal medications. Acute sinusitis should last no longer than four weeks. Infections lasting eight weeks or longer are labeled chronic sinusitis and may stem from other causes such as nasal polyps or a deviated septum.

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