Do I Have Sinusitis?

It starts with symptoms similar to a cold. You may feel a bit achy and tired, and you're likely to be sneezing and coughing. But when medications to treat the common cold simply don't work, when your symptoms persist and you develop a terrible headache, you know it's got to be something more than a simple cold. A doctor will examine your face and forehead, take a history of your symptoms, and maybe even do a sinus X-ray, and he'll be able to tell you whether or not you have sinusitis. Contact Clinic of Facial Plastic Surgery today to learn more.

Sinusitis can be a painful, awful condition which occurs when the sinuses become infected or inflamed. There are four categories that sinusitis can be divided into:

  • Acute - lasting for up to four weeks.
  • Subacute - lasting for four to eight weeks.
  • Chronic - typically lasting for up to eight weeks though it can continue for months and even years.
  • Recurrent - repeated acute attacks occurring within a year and potentially caused by different organisms.

Studies suggest that some 37 million Americans are affected by sinusitis each year, and nearly 32 million cases of chronic sinusitis are reported annually by health care providers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health care costs related to sinusitis average $5.8 billion spent by Americans each year.

The Sinuses Defined

The sinuses in the human body are simply hollow air spaces. A 'sinus attack' is usually characterized by symptoms occurring in one or more of four pairs of cavities, or sinuses. These cavities, known as paranasal sinuses, are positioned around the nose within the skull or bones of the head. They include the following:

  • Frontal Sinuses. These are located in the brow area over the eyes.
  • Maxillary Sinuses. These are located inside of each cheekbone.
  • Ethmoid sinuses. These are located between the eyes just behind the bridge of the nose.
  • Sphenoid sinuses. Located behind the ethmoid sinuses, these are placed behind the eyes in the upper region of the nose.

There is an opening between each sinus and the nose which allows for the exchange of air and mucus. In addition, the sinuses are connected to the nasal passages with a continuous mucous membrane lining. Any time that swelling occurs in the nose, such as with an allergic reaction or infection, the sinuses can also be affected. Pressure on the sinus wall can result from air trapped within a blocked sinus along with pus or other secretions, and this may in turn lead to a painful sinus attack. Pain can also result if a swollen membrane prevents air from entering a paranasal sinus.

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