Medically known as rhinosinusitis, a sinus infection occurs when your nasal cavities become infected, swollen, and inflamed.
Sinusitis is usually caused by a virus and often persists even after other upper respiratory symptoms are gone. In some cases, bacteria, or rarely fungus, may cause a sinus infection. Other conditions such as allergies, nasal polyps, and tooth infections can also contribute to sinus pain and symptoms.
Chronic vs. Acute
An acute infection is usually part of a cold or other respiratory illness. The main criteria for chronic sinusitis include facial pain, infected nasal discharge, and congestion. Many sinus infection symptoms are common in both acute and chronic forms.
What Can Cause Sinusitis?
Sinusitis can be caused by a virus, bacteria, or fungus that swells and blocks the sinuses. A few specific causes include:
- The common cold.
- Nasal and seasonal allergies, including mold allergies.
- Polyps (growths).
- A deviated septum. The septum is the line of cartilage that divides your nose. A deviated septum means that it isn’t straight, so that it is closer to the nasal passage on one side of your nose, causing a blockage.
- A weak immune system from illness or medications.
Common signs and symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Postnasal drip (mucus drips down the throat).
- Nasal discharge (thick yellow or green discharge from nose) or stuffy nose
- Facial pressure (particularly around the nose, eyes, and forehead), headache, and or pain in your teeth or ears.
- Halitosis (bad breath)
How is sinusitis treated?
Sinusitis is treated in several ways, each depending on how severe the case of sinusitis is.
A simple sinusitis infection is treated with:
- Over-the-counter cold and allergy medications.
- Nasal saline irrigation.
- Drinking fluids.
- Intranasal steroid sprays.
- Topical antihistamine sprays or oral pills.
- Leukotriene antagonists reduce swelling and allergy symptoms.
- Rinsing the nose with saline solutions.