What is acute sinusitis?

Acute sinusitis is the name of an infection of the sinuses, which are the hollow spaces in the skull. The infection is due to inflammation caused by several different organisms including bacteria, viruses or fungi. Most commonly, acute sinusitis is the result of inflammation, congestion and blockage caused by a cold or allergy. Acute sinusitis can also result from sinus blockage due to a deviated nasal septum, nasal bone spur, or nasal polyps.

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The inflammation of the sinuses in acute sinusitis prevents nasal hairs (cilia) from removing mucus, resulting in blockage and infection. Most commonly, people develop acute sinusitis from colds and allergies that may cause too much mucus to be made or that block the opening of the sinuses. Less common causes of acute sinusitis include decongestant nasal spray abuse, smoking, swimming, or diving.

Left untreated, acute sinusitis may lead to abscess, trigger severe asthma, or lead to meningitis. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), difficulty breathing, or changes in vision.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for acute sinusitis but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.


What are the symptoms of acute sinusitis?

Acute sinusitis causes congestion of the sinuses that may result in a number of symptoms. The symptoms can vary in intensity among individuals.... Read more about acute sinusitissymptoms


What causes acute sinusitis?

Acute sinusitis is most commonly caused by a viral upper respiratory tract infection. The viral infection can lead to inflammation of the sinuses. Therefore, acute sinusitis occurs most frequently in people after they have had a cold. The cold virus attacks the lining of the sinuses, causing them to swell and become narrow. The body responds to the virus by producing more mucus, which becomes blocked in the swollen sinuses. Bacterial infection of the sinuses can also occur when mucus accumulates within the blocked sinuses, preventing the normal drainage of the sinuses.... Read more about acute sinusitiscauses


How is acute sinusitis treated?

Treatment for acute sinusitis begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. For severe cases of acute bacterial sinusitis, antibiotics are the mainstay of treatment and are highly effective. It is important to follow your treatment plan for acute sinusitis precisely and to take all of the antibiotics as instructed to avoid reinfection or recurrence.... Read more about acute sinusitistreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

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