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Sinusitis overview

Published: July 13, 2009. Updated: August 09, 2009

Sinusitis is an inflammation, either bacterial, viral or allergic/inflammatory, of the paranasal sinuses. It can be acute (going on less than three weeks) or chronic (going on more than three weeks). Sinusitis is one of the most common complications of the common cold. Symptoms include: Headache; facial pain; nasal obstruction; fever; general malaise; thick green or yellow discharge; feeling of facial 'fullness' worsening on bending.


Factors which may predispose you to developing sinusitis include: allergies; structural problems such as a deviated nasal septum; smoking; nasal polyps; carrying the cystic fibrosis gene (research is still tentative). A recent advance in the treatment of sinusitis is a type of surgery called FESS - Functional endoscopic sinus surgery, whereby normal clearance from the sinuses is restored by removing the anatomical and pathological variations that predispose to sinusitis.


Self-help measures include simple painkillers (aspirin, acetaminophen or similar), inhaling steam, hot drinks including tea and chicken soup, over-the-counter decongestants, and getting plenty of rest. If sinusitis doesn't improve within 48 hours, or is causing significant pain, one should see a doctor, who may prescribe antibiotics or nasal steroids.

For chronic or recurring sinusitis, you should be referred to an otolaryngologist for more specialist assessment and treatment, which may include nasal surgery.

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