If you have nasal congestion, facial pressure, cough and thick nasal discharge, you may have rhinosinusitis (commonly referred to as sinusitis). Your sinuses are hollow cavities within your cheekbones, around your eyes and behind your nose. They contain mucus, which helps to warm, moisten and filter the air you breathe. When something blocks the mucus from draining normally, an infection can occur.
Acute sinusitis refers to sinusitis symptoms lasting less than four weeks. Most cases begin as a common cold. Symptoms often go away within a week to 10 days; however, in some people, a bacterial infection develops.
Chronic sinusitis, also referred to as chronic rhinosinusitis, is often diagnosed when symptoms have gone on for more than 12 weeks, despite medical treatment. People with allergic rhinitis or asthma are more likely to suffer from chronic sinusitis. This is because the airways are more likely to become inflamed when allergic rhinitis or asthma are present. Sinusitis may also be caused by an infection, a fungus, deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps or in rare cases an immune system deficiency.
Sinusitis symptoms, whether acute or chronic, frequently develop after a cold or during times of severe or ongoing allergic rhinitis symptoms. The most obvious sign of sinusitis is a painful pressure in the cheeks and forehead. Other symptoms include:
Allergy testing performed by an allergist can identify what allergic triggers might be behind your chronic or reoccurring sinus infections. A CT scan of the sinuses may be ordered to look for abnormalities in the sinuses. If allergies are causing the sinus problems, treating the allergies by avoiding triggers or with medications or allergy shots can help prevent recurrences of sinusitis. Environmental control measures such as avoiding allergens are very important for people with rhinitis triggered by indoor allergens such as dust mites, molds or animal dander. This treatment strategy can prevent the need for surgery or prevent recurrence of disease after surgery.