What is Sinusitis?

W. S. Tichenor, M. D

New York, New York

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Sinusitis is an inflammation or infection of the air pockets on either side of and behind the nose. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi (molds) and possibly by allergies. About 15-20 % of the population has a chronic sinusitis (meaning lasting longer than 3 weeks). It can cause a tremendous amount of suffering. I had sinusitis for years. I kept working but felt like I wanted to die. I felt like no one understood what I was going through, my wife would always say: "I can't believe you complain so much about something as trivial as a sinus infection", and then she got one... and she started complaining!

Sinusitis causes a wide variety of symptoms which can often be confused with other medical problems or dismissed as being due to a "cold". There may commonly be single symptoms such as a post nasal drip, stuffiness, or pressure around the nose, but can also be a combination of the these symptoms associated with a runny nose, clear or colored mucus, a cough, a sore or irritated throat, pain in the teeth, headache, or fever. Additional symptoms which sometimes occur are hoarseness, a decreased sense of smell, and fullness of the ears, but they can be extremely varied as you will see in the FAQ section.

Sinus infections must first be diagnosed accurately, and then subsequently need to be treated with antibiotics, and prescription nasal sprays, as well as decongestants and often medications to thin the mucus. I also suggest that people use a vaporizer at night, and occasionally nasal irrigation, as well as Aspirin (if you can tolerate it), and I am sure that your friends and relatives will attempt to force you to take all kinds of non-drug remedies. Believe me, it gets overwhelming . We will try to sort it out for you.

If sinus infections are not treated early, they may become chronic. Early means no later than 2-3 weeks after the symptoms first start - the cold that lingers may not be just a cold. The longer you wait to treat sinus problems, the more difficult they become to treat, the more likely complications will ensue, and the more likely surgery may be necessary as opposed to medical treatment. So

Read on about Treatment

and we will try to help you understand what you need to do to get better, and try not to bore you completely along the way.

© 1996-2007, W. S. Tichenor, M. D.
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New York, New York 10021
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Last Update April 22, 2007

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