Sinusitis is simply defined as inflammation of the sinuses. Inflammation can result from many different causes including: bacteria, viruses, allergies, etc. Sinusitis can be divided into two categories, acute and chronic. Acute sinusitis is generally defined as an infection of the sinuses that lasts less than 4 weeks, while chronic sinusitis lasts longer than 3 months. Acute sinusitis is generally caused by viral or less commonly bacterial infections in the sinuses. Symptoms generally resolve with effective treatment. Patients with chronic sinusitis suffer from symptoms that “wax and wane” but never completely go away. As bacteria in the sinuses block normal drainage pathways, the inflammatory process becomes self perpetuating. Blockage leads to poor drainage, more inflammation and greater obstruction.

What are the common symptoms of sinusitis?

Patients with sinusitis typically have at least two to three of the following symptoms:

  • Decreased nasal airflow
  • Discolored nasal discharge
  • Facial fullness, heaviness, or congestion
  • Facial pain or pressure-particularly in upper teeth
  • Reduced sense of smell (taste may also be affected)

Associated symptoms may include:

  • Low grade fever
  • Malaise or fatigue
  • Bad breath
  • Chronic cough