Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
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New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2681
Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinus cavities. The sinus cavities are air-filled spaces in the skull. It may be:
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Acute sinusitis is often caused by an infection. It may be viral, bacterial, or fungal (rare). Chronic sinusitis may happen in people who are at higher risk of infection. It may also be due to irritation from contaminants in the air like smoking, pollution, or allergens.
Factors that may increase the chance of sinusitis include:
Problems with structures around the face may increase the risk of sinusitis. Examples include:
Chronic illnesses the increase risk of sinusitis include:
Sinusitis may cause:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. The doctor can diagnose sinusitis based on its symptoms and exam. More tests may be done if sinusitis is not responding to treatment or keeps coming back. Tests may include:
Most sinus infections will pass on their own in 7 to 10 days. Home care and medicine can help to manage symptoms.
Infections that last longer or keep coming back may need more care.
Congestion in the nasal and sinus passages cause pressure and pain. It can be loosened with:
Medicine may help manage symptoms until the sinusitis passes. Options may include:
Antibiotics are only effective for some sinus infections. They may be recommended if a sinus infection lasts longer than expected or keeps coming back.
The doctor may recommend surgery if sinusitis keeps coming back or is severe. Types of surgery that may help are:
To help reduce the chance of sinusitis:
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Canadian Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Foundation
Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology Society of Ontario
Acute sinusitis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T902952/Acute-sinusitis-in-adults. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Acute sinusitis in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T902949/Acute-rhinosinusitis-in-children. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, and rhinosinusitis. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/allergic-rhinitis-sinusitis-and-rhinosinusitis. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Aring AM, Chan MM. Acute rhinosinusitis in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2011;83(9):1057-1063.
Chronic rhinosinusitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115673/Chronic-rhinosinusitis. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Okuyemi KS, Tsue TT. Radiologic imaging in the management of sinusitis. Am Fam Physician. 2002;66(10):1882-1886.
Stewart AE, Vaughan WC. Balloon sinuplasty versus surgical management of chronic rhinosinusitis. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2010;10(3):181-187.
Last reviewed January 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Shawna Grubb, RN Last Updated: 1/29/2021