What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis refers to inflammation of the sinuses that occurs with a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection.
Sinusitis can be:
- Acute — symptoms last up to 4 weeks
- Sub-acute — symptoms last 4 – 12 weeks
- Chronic — symptoms last 3 months or longer
These factors may increase your child’s risk of developing sinusitis:
- Allergic rhinitis or hay fever
- Cystic fibrosis
- Day care
- Diseases that prevent the cilia from working properly, such as Kartagener syndrome and immotile cilia syndrome.
- Changes in altitude (flying or scuba diving)
- Large adenoids
- Tooth infections (rare)
- Weakened immune system from HIV or chemotherapy
The doctor will examine you or your child for sinusitis by:
- Looking in the nose for signs of polyps
- Shining a light against the sinus (transillumination) for signs of inflammation
- Tapping over a sinus area to find infection
Viewing the sinuses through a fiberoptic scope (called nasal endoscopy or rhinoscopy) may help diagnose sinusitis.
A CT scan of the sinuses may also be used to help diagnose sinusitis or to evaluate the anatomy of the sinuses to determine whether surgery will be beneficial. If sinusitis is thought to involve a tumor or fungal infection, an MRI of the sinuses may be necessary.
If you or your child has chronic or recurrent sinusitis, other tests may include:
- Allergy testing
- Blood tests for HIV or other tests for poor immune function
- Ciliary function tests
- Nasal cytology
- Sweat chloride tests for cystic fibrosis
Antibiotics are usually not needed for acute sinusitis. Most of these infections go away on their own. Even when antibiotics do help, they may only slightly reduce the time you or your child is sick. Antibiotics may be prescribed sooner for:
- Children with nasal discharge, possibly with a cough, that is not getting better after 2 – 3 weeks
- Fever higher than 102.2° Fahrenheit (39° Celsius)
- Headache or pain in the face
- Severe swelling around the eyes
Acute sinusitis should be treated for 10 – 14 days. Chronic sinusitis should be treated for 3 – 4 weeks. Some people with chronic sinusitis may need special medicines to treat fungal infections.
Call your doctor if:
- Symptoms last longer than 10 – 14 days or a cold that gets worse after 7 days
- Severe headache are unrelieved by over-the-counter pain medicine
- Fever is present
- Symptoms continue after taking all antibiotics properly
- There are changes in vision during a sinus infection
A green or yellow discharge does not necessarily indicate a sinus infection or the need for antibiotics.
The best way to prevent sinusitis is to avoid or quickly treat flus and colds:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants and other chemicals that could boost your immune system and help your body resist infection.
- Get an influenza vaccine each year.
- Reduce stress.
- Frequent handwashing, particularly after shaking hands with others.
- Avoid smoke and pollutants.
- Drink plenty of fluids to increase moisture in body.
- Take decongestants during an upper respiratory infection.
- Treat allergies quickly and appropriately.
- Use a humidifier to increase moisture in nose and sinuses.
If you are looking for answers in the treatment of chronic sinusitis, please call my office for a consultation. There are successful treatment plans that will improve your quality of life. In the NYC area, call 866-632-5537.
*The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites