Sinusitis is a common condition in which the tissues lining the sinuses become swollen and inflamed, inhibiting fluids from draining and causing a variety of cold-like symptoms including runny nose, congestion, and sore throat. The condition is considered chronic when it lasts for longer than 12 weeks.

What Causes Sinusitis?

Approximately 37 million Americans suffer from sinusitis, making it the most common chronic condition in the U.S. It is most often caused by a virus, but may also be the result of allergies, nasal polyps, deviated septum, facial trauma, immune system disorders, and tumors. Though rare, complications such as meningitis, asthma attacks, vision problems, aneurysms, and strokes can occur.

Symptoms of sinusitis include nasal congestion and discharge, facial pain and pressure, sore throat, postnasal drip, loss of smell and taste, headache, fever, fatigue, and bad breath.

Treating Sinusitis

When sinusitis is suspected, your doctor will give you a physical exam and take an in-depth look at your medical history. He or she will take a look at your nasal passages for abnormalities such as nasal polyps, inflammation, and fluid buildup. Diagnostic tests like CT scans, MRIs, and allergy tests can be used to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other possible causes.

Acute sinusitis can be treated with over-the-counter and prescription saline nasal sprays and corticosteroids, decongestants, and pain relievers; bacterial infections require antibiotics. When the condition is chronic, long-term solutions include antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays, saline washes, and oral steroids. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) or surgery are helpful for those with severe cases that don’t respond to other forms of treatment.