Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses, the hollow cavities within the cheekbones, around your eyes and behind your nose. It is often caused by a bacterial infection, and may occur following a respiratory infection such as the common cold. When something blocks the mucus in these cavities from draining normally, an infection can occur. People with allergic rhinitis (allergies) or asthma are more likely to suffer from chronic sinusitis because the airways are more likely to become inflamed when allergies or asthma are present.
Acute Sinusitis refers to sinusitis symptoms lasting less than four weeks. Most cases begin as the common cold. Symptoms often go away within a week to 10 days, but in some people, a bacterial infection develops and antibiotics may be required.
Chronic Sinusitis is often diagnosed when acute symptoms have gone on for more than eight weeks despite medical treatment.
It can be difficult to determine if your nasal symptoms are due to a sinus infection or structural nasal abnormality, or secondary to allergies. Allergy symptoms can be seasonal or year-round and can last months at a time, just as chronic sinus infection can. A careful medical history, physical exam, allergy testing and, at times, a Sinus X-Ray or CT scan, can help define the cause of the symptoms.
Chronic sinusitis symptoms can interfere with your daily life and many people who suffer from this condition find it difficult to concentrate at work or enjoy social activities. Seeking the help of a board certified allergist is essential to finding the underlying cause of this chronic health problem.