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Is the definition of sinusitis the same as sinus infection?

Essentially yes, the definition of sinusitis is the same as sinus infection.  “Itis” means inflammation or swelling often due to infection, and “sinus” is the location of the swelling on your face.  Sinuses are normally air-filled pockets in the bone of the face.  They are found in your forehead, at the bridge of your nose, way behind your eyes and at the apples of your cheeks. If these air pockets become blocked with fluid, germ like viruses or bacteria (and sometimes fungus) can multiply in these dark hard-to-reach spaces — and then you have an infection.  

How long do sinus infections last?

There are two major forms of sinus infections (also called sinusitis):  acute and chronic. An “acute” sinus infection lasts anywhere from ten days up to eight weeks.  A “chronic” infection lasts even longer.  It is ongoing — it may seem like it’s improving, and then it comes right back as bad as it was at first. Chronic sinus infections may drag on for months at a time. Both acute and chronic sinus infections can be viral or bacterial. Some long-standing infections are fungal.  

How do you get rid of a sinus infection?

First you need to know the cause of the sinus infection.  Is it viral or bacterial?  If it’s viral, it should probably last less than two weeks. To get relief from sinus infection symptoms you can use nasal decongestant sprays, oral and topical antihistamines, nasal steroids and nasal saline washes. For a bacterial infection, antibiotics are usually prescribed.  But be careful here. Don’t jump to antibiotics too quickly.  Due to the overprescribing of antibiotics in recent years, and the development of antibiotic resistance, allergists recommend only taking an antibiotic if the symptoms last more than seven to 10 days.  If drug therapies don’t work for you, surgery might be recommended to repair defects in the bone separating the nasal passages, remove nasal polyps or open closed passages. 

What causes sinus infections?

Sinus infections happen when you “catch a bug” and a virus, bacteria or mold settles in the sinuses and causes inflammation of the area lining your sinuses. The sinus cavity, which is like a dark cave, fills up with fluid and becomes blocked.  This is the perfect place for germs to grow.  People who have nasal allergies already have this sinus irritation. If you have a weak immune system, you are more likely to develop sinus infection from bacteria or mold.  Other things that can cause sinus infections are colds, seasonal allergies, nasal polyps or a deviated septum. With a deviated septum one side of the nose is shifted over, and it makes it hard to drain mucous, so the sinuses get backed up. 

What are the symptoms of a sinus infection?

Many of the symptoms of a sinus infection are the same you’d experience with a bad cold. They include: postnasal drip (that thick mucus in the back of your throat), discolored nasal discharge (green mucous coming out of your nose), stuffy nose or nasal congestion and tenderness or pain in the face – usually under the eyes or around the nose. You can also have headaches, tooth pain, coughing from the post nasal drip, fever, fatigue, a bad smell in your nose or a bad taste in your mouth and bad breath. Symptoms such as a fever that won’t go away, a change in your eyesight, severe headaches and neck stiffness need immediate medical attention.

Sinusitis: Service
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