What are sinuses?

The sinuses are cavities, or air-filled pockets, that are near the nasal passage. The sinuses make mucus, which is a fluid that cleans the bacteria and other particles out of the air we breathe. There are four different types of sinuses:

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses near the nose. These infections usually occur after a cold or after an allergic inflammation. There are four types of sinusitis:

What causes sinusitis?

Sometimes, a sinus infection happens after an upper respiratory infection (URI) or common cold. The URI causes inflammation of the nasal passages that can lead to obstruction of the opening of the paranasal sinuses, which can lead to infection in the sinuses. Allergic disease can also lead to sinusitis because of the swelling of the nasal tissue and increased production of mucus. There are other possible conditions that can block the normal flow of secretions out of the sinuses and can lead to sinusitis. These may include:

After the blockage of the flow of secretions from the sinuses, bacteria will sometimes begin to grow. This leads to a sinus infection, or sinusitis. The most common bacteria that cause sinusitis are:

What are the symptoms of sinusitis?

The symptoms of sinusitis vary for each person, and depend greatly on the age of the individual. The following are the most common symptoms of sinusitis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

Younger children:

Older children and adults:

The symptoms of sinusitis may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult a doctor for a diagnosis.

How is sinusitis diagnosed?

Usually, your doctor can diagnosis sinusitis based on your symptoms and physical examination. In some situations, additional tests may be performed to confirm the diagnosis. These may include:

Treatment for sinusitis

Specific treatment for sinusitis will be determined by your doctor based on:

Treatment of sinusitis may include the following:

Decongestants and antihistamines do not seem to help the symptoms of sinusitis.

Antibiotics may be withheld for 10 to 14 days, unless severe symptoms develop, such as fever, facial pain or tenderness, or swelling around the eye. Surgery should be considered only if other treatments have failed.

Referral to an allergist or immunologist is often needed, particularly for people with chronic or recurrent sinusitis and for patients who have had sinus surgery, but who still experience sinusitis.

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