What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis, commonly called a sinus infection, is an inflammation and infection of the air-filled spaces that are located within the bones in and around the nose (paranasal sinuses). This results in swelling of the mucus membranes that line the sinuses, pain and pressure in and around the eyes and cheekbones, and a thick green discharge from the nose.

Sinusitis is a common condition that is caused by a viral infection, bacterial infection, or rarely, a fungal infection. Sinusitis occurs when the body’s immune system is unable to stop harmful bacteria, viruses or fungi from reproducing in the sinuses. Fungal infections are more commonly seen in individuals with diabetes or who are compromised immune systems. Sinusitis can also be caused by allergies and autoimmune diseases.

Treatment for sinusitis varies depending on the cause, severity of symptoms, presence of complications, and a person’s medical history. Treatment may include a humidifier, medications or possibly surgery.

In some cases, sinusitis can spread from the sinuses to the nervous system and lead to life-threatening infections and complications, such as meningitis and brain abscess. Seek prompt medical care if you develop symptoms of sinusitis or if you have sinusitis that is not getting better. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have symptoms of sinusitis that are accompanied by a change in alertness or consciousness, double vision, a seizure, or a stiff neck.


What are the symptoms of sinusitis?

How sinusitis affects people can vary. It is often easy to confuse sinusitis with migraine headache, since they have similar symptoms. Common symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • Bad breath
  • Diminished smell and taste
  • Fever

What causes sinusitis?

Sinusitis is caused by a viral infection, bacterial infection, or rarely, a fungal infection. Infections that cause sinusitis can be spread from person to person when someone with a respiratory tract infection or cold talks, coughs or sneezes. This shoots droplets contaminated with bacteria, viruses or fungi into the ai... Read more about sinusitiscauses


How is sinusitis treated?

The treatment plan for sinusitis uses a multipronged approach aimed at relieving nasal congestion, clearing the infection, improving breathing, and reducing pain and pressure.

General treatment of sinusitis includes:

  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • Avoid exposure to irritating fumes such as tobacco
Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 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.

This Article is Filed Under: Ear, Nose and Throat

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