Voice, Swallowing & Throat Disorders

Vocal Fold Paralysis

Medically Reviewed by

Dr Piyush Gamit

"Nasal passage narrowing on one or both sides can result from deviations in the nasal septum, the wall of bone and cartilage that divides the left and...

Overview of Sinusitis

Sinusitis is the inflammation or swelling of the sinuses that surround your nose, often caused by a viral or bacterial infection. While it commonly resolves without medical intervention, symptoms persisting beyond 7–10 days or accompanied by fever or severe headache should prompt a visit to your general practitioner

What are Sinuses?

Sinuses are small, air-filled cavities in your facial bones connected to the nasal cavity. They’re also called paranasal sinuses. There are four pairs: frontal sinuses (behind the forehead), maxillary sinuses (in the cheeks), sphenoid sinuses (in the nasal bones), and ethmoid sinuses (between the eyes). These sinuses produce mucus, which traps dust, germs, and other particles. The mucus also contains antibodies and enzymes that help fight infections.

Sinusitis, or a sinus infection, occurs when excess mucus builds up in your sinuses, leading to inflammation. Bacteria, viruses, or allergens can cause this buildup by blocking the tiny openings of the sinuses, preventing mucus from flowing into the nasal cavity. The stagnant mucus encourages germ growth, resulting in a sinus infection.

Sinusitis can be classified into three types based on duration: acute sinusitis, subacute sinusitis, and chronic sinusitis. Acute sinusitis is the most common, lasting 1-2 weeks with viral infections or up to 4 weeks with bacterial infections. Subacute sinusitis lasts 4-12 weeks and often accompanies bacterial infections or seasonal allergies. Chronic sinusitis lasts more than 12 weeks and may recur, often due to bacterial infections, persistent allergies, or structural nasal issues, sometimes requiring surgery.

Types of Sinusitis

Sinusitis can be classified into three different types based on its duration.

  • Acute Sinusitis: The most common type, lasting 1-2 weeks with viral infections or up to 4 weeks with bacterial infections. Symptoms include facial pain, nasal congestion, and thick nasal discharge.
  • Subacute Sinusitis: Symptoms last longer than acute sinusitis, between 4-12 weeks. This type commonly occurs with bacterial infections or seasonal allergies and may require antibiotics for treatment.
  • Chronic Sinusitis: Symptoms persist for more than 12 weeks and may continually return. This type is usually caused by bacterial infections, persistent allergies, or structural nasal problems. It may also require more invasive treatment such as surgery.

Symptoms of Sinusitis

Symptoms of sinusitis vary according to the length and severity of the sinus infection.

In general, if you have 2 or more of the following symptoms accompanied by thick, green or yellow nasal discharge, your doctor may diagnose you with sinusitis.

Common symptoms include:
  • Blocked or runny nose
  • Postnasal drip or mucus running down the back of your throat causing irritation
  • Thick nasal discharge
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste
  • Cough or congestion
  • Pain and tenderness around your cheeks, eyes or forehead
Other symptoms may include:
  • Pain in the upper jaw and/or teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Nausea

experiencing Blocked or runny nose?

Consult An ENT Specialist To Get Diagnosed

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When should you see your doctor?

If your symptoms are mild and improving, you don’t usually need to see your doctor and can look after yourself at home. However, see your doctor if:

  • Your symptoms are severe or getting worse, e.g.,
    • Fever (above 39 degree celsius)
    • Swelling around your eyes or forehead
    • Severe headache or facial pain that does not resolve with over-the-counter (OTC) drugs
    • Confusion
    • Double vision or other visual disturbances
    • Stiff neck
  • Your symptoms persist after 7-10 days
  • Your symptoms continue after taking antibiotics prescribed by your doctor
  • You experience episodes of sinusitis frequently

If you have sinusitis, it’s important to see a doctor if your symptoms are severe or worsening, such as a high fever, swelling around the eyes or forehead, severe headache, confusion, double vision, or a stiff neck. Additionally, if your symptoms persist after 7-10 days or continue after taking prescribed antibiotics, you should seek medical attention. Frequent episodes of sinusitis also warrant a visit to your doctor for further evaluation and management.

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