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Sinusitis, or Rhinosinusitis, is an inflammation of the tissue lining of the sinuses. It affects millions of people each year. The sinuses are usually filled with air, but when the sinuses are blocked, they can fill with fluid and debris. This can lead to infection when the sinuses trap pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Structural issues such as narrowed drainage anatomy are often associated with sinusitis.

Comparison of sinuses before and after medicationThis patient was treated with medications. What is important to note is the change in the CT image from pre-treatment to post-treatment. On CT, healthy sinuses are black because they contain air. In the pre-treatment image, the maxillary sinuses (the ones in the cheeks) are inflamed and filled with fluid and debris. After treatment with medication, this has cleared.

Symptoms of Sinusitis

  • Headache and facial pain
  • Congestion, fullness
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Discharge of colored mucus from the nose
  • Teeth pain
  • Loss of sense of smell or taste
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Bad breath

Sinusitis is usually preceded by a cold, allergy attack, or irritation from environmental pollutants. It can also be exacerbated by airplane flights and changes in the weather. Many times the resulting symptoms run their course in a few days. If symptoms continue and last longer than three months, your sinusitis is considered chronic.

Is It Allergy?

Culture growing in a petri dishYou may also have allergic rhinitis. This is a condition that occurs when the body's immune system over-responds to specific particles such as pollen, mold, animal hair, chemicals, food, and insects. That's where we can help by identifying your symptoms then plotting the best course of action. Rhinitis can also be non-allergic and medications can be effective in this situations.

Is It a Cold?

The common cold is a viral infection which can trigger symptoms of nasal congrstion, nasal musus, fever, and cough. Most people don't know that the most frequent cause of acute bacterial sinusitis is a viral cold or upper respiratory infection. While the symptoms of a cold may mimic a sinus infection, it usually lasts less than a week and resolves without treatment. A sinus infection usually lasts more than a week and is best treated with anitbiotics.

How To Tell The Difference

  SINUSITIS ALLERGY COLD
Facial Pressure/Pain
Duration of Illness

Nasal Discharge 
Fever
Headache
Pain in Upper Teeth
Bad Breath
Coughing
Nasal Congestion
Sneezing
Yes
Acute: Over 10-14 days
Chronic: 3 months
Thick, yellow-green
Sometimes
Sometimes
Sometimes
Sometimes
Sometimes
Yes
No
Sometimes
Varies

Clear, thin, water Thick
No
Sometimes
No
No
Sometimes
Sometimes
Sometimes
Sometimes
Under 10 days

Whitish or thin
Sometimes
Sometimes
No
No
Yes
Yes
Yes

Source: http://www.entnet.org/Healthinformation/Sinusitis.ctm