Sinusitis, an infection of the sinuses, afflicts 31 million individuals in the United States. Each year, Americans spend more than $1 billion on over-the-counter medications to manage the symptoms of sinusitis and over $150 million on prescription medication to treat sinusitis. Individuals who have allergies, asthma, immune deficiencies, or structural abnormities of the nose or sinuses are placed a much greater risk of developing sinusitis. At Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Associates we have treated thousands of patients who suffer from sinusitis.
What Is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses, which is the hollow cavities within the cheekbones, around the eyes and behind the nose. It is typically caused by a bacterial infection that may develop following a respiratory infection. When mucus gets blocked from draining properly out these cavities it becomes a site for bacterial growth. Individuals with allergic rhinitis or asthma are more likely to suffer from sinusitis because the chronic inflammation experienced in these conditions often times obstructs the flow of mucus. Similarly, individuals with structural abnormalities, such as a deviated nasal septum, are more susceptible to sinus infections as well.
Acute sinusitis refers to a sinus infection that last less than 4 weeks.
A sinus infection that lasts for more than eight weeks despite medical treatment is termed “chronic sinusitis.”
The symptoms of a sinus infection may include:
- Nasal Congestion
- Thick Nasal Discharge
- Postnasal Drip (often with an accompanying bad taste)
- Tooth Pain
- Decreased Sense of Smell
- Pressure behind the eyes
- Pressure in forehead
- Wheeze (if asthmatic)
Testing for sinusitis begins with the patient’s medical history and a detailed physical examination of the nose, mouth, throat, and lungs. Our Board Certified Allergist will check for polyps or any changes in the anatomy of the nose. Based on a patients medical history, presenting symptoms, and physical examination, additional tests me be considered. These tests include:
- X-Ray Of The Sinus
- CT Scan Of The Sinus
- Allergy Skin Testing
When the underlying cause of sinusitis is treated effectively, the frequency of infections can decrease significantly.
Treatment plans are personalized for each patient depending on their presentation and symptom severity. Most treatment plans include:
- Antihistamines / Decongestants
- Nasal Steroid Sprays
- Saline Nasal Irrigation
Since allergies are a frequent exacerbating factor of sinusitis, patients who have environmental allergies may benefit from allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots).