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Sinusitis (also called rhinosinusitis) affects 30+ million people each year, making it one of the most common health problems in the U.S. It is more prevalent than heart disease and asthma and has a greater impact on quality of life than chronic back pain or congestive heart failure.

Sinusitis manifests as inflammation of the sinus lining that prevents normal mucus drainage through the nose. This blockage causes mucus to build up in the sinuses and can lead to very uncomfortable symptoms.


Depending on the duration of the symptoms, it can be classified into one of several types:

Sinusitis Types

What causes sinusitis?

Sinusitis can be caused by three things:

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi

The same viruses that cause the common cold cause most cases of sinusitis.

When the lining of the sinus cavities gets inflamed from a viral infection like a cold, it swells. This is viral sinusitis. The swelling can block the normal drainage of fluid from the sinuses into the nose and throat. If the fluid cannot drain and builds up over time, bacteria, or fungi (plural of fungus) may start to grow in it. These bacterial or fungal infections can cause more swelling and pain. They are more likely to last longer, get worse with time, and become chronic.

Nasal allergies or other problems that block the nasal passages and allow fluid to build up in the sinuses can also lead to sinusitis.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms of sinusitis are a runny or stuffy nose and pain and pressure in your head and face. You may also have a yellow or green drainage or drip from your nose or down the back of your throat (post-nasal drip). Where you feel the pain and tenderness depends on which sinus is affected


Other common symptoms of sinusitis may include:

  • Nasal discharge or discolored post-nasal drainage

  • Nasal obstruction or congestion

  • A feeling of congestion or fullness in your face

  • A reduced sense of smell and taste

  • Pus in the nasal cavity

  • Cough that produces mucus

  • Fever

  • Sinus headaches

  • Bad breath

  • Fatigue

  • Dental pain

How is sinusitis treated?

Treatments will vary depending upon the severity of your sinusitis and whether it’s an acute or chronic condition.

  • Decongestants are a good short-term solution, but extended use can worsen the condition.
  • Antibiotics are usually prescribed for bacterial infections.
  • Antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays, saline washes and oral steroids all provide reasonable, long-term relief.
  • More permanent solutions such as immunotherapy (allergy shots) or surgery can bring relief to those suffering from chronic sinusitis.

Sinus Procedures

There are several surgical sinus procedures available. These include:

Your doctor can advise which sinus surgery is best for you based upon your symptoms and unique condition.