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Acute Sinusitis

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Acute Sinusitis

Acute Sinusitis

Acute sinusitis (acute rhinosinusitis) is a symptomatic inflammation of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses that typically lasts less than four weeks. This inflammation blocks nasal passages and causes mucus to build up resulting in nasal congestion, throbbing facial pain and headache.

Acute Sinusitis is usually of viral origin associated with common colds. In some cases, it may be caused by allergies or bacterial and fungal infections. The goals of treatment vary, depending on whether it is of viral or bacterial origin. Other risk factors include hay fever, certain allergies, nasal passage abnormality, immunological conditions or frequent exposure to pollutants.

A mild bout of acute sinusitis is usually common. However, persistence of the condition should prompt doctor's assistance to avoid untoward complications. Sinusitis that lasts more than eight weeks is called chronic sinusitis.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Facial pain/pressure
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Nasal discharge
  • Loss of smell
  • Cough/congestion


The most common complication of acute sinusitis is its development into chronic sinusitis. It actually has similar signs and symptoms but lasts longer than 12 weeks. In rare cases, acute sinusitis can also lead to serious complications if left untreated.

Complications of acute sinusitis include:

  • Asthma flare-ups.
  • Chronic Sinusitis
  • Meningitis
  • Vision Problems
  • Ear Infection


The primary goals of management of acute sinusitis are to eradicate the infection, decrease the severity and duration of symptoms, and prevent complications. Treatments also vary depending on its underlying cause. If it is of viral origin, people with acute sinusitis usually get better with home remedies and self-care. If it is of bacterial origin, treatment will most likely include antibiotics to eradicate infection and prevent complications.



Analgesics.Analgesics such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories and acetaminophen are recommended for pain relief.

Saline Nasal Spray. This can be indicated to rinse nasal passages and reduce nasal congestion. However, it is most important to ensure that irrigants be prepared from sterile or bottled water to avoid complications from contamination.

Inhaled Steroids. Nasal sprays such as fluticasone (Flonase), budesonide (Rhinocort Aqua), and beclomethasone (Beconase AQ) can help decrease mucosal inflammation and allows improved sinus drainage.

Decongestants. These can either be topical or oral. OTC decongestants such as Sudafed and Afrin can help facilitate nasal patency. However, these drugs should not be taken for more than three consecutive days to avoid rebound congestion.

Antibiotics. Antibiotics are usually indicated for acute sinusitis associated with bacterial infection. These include amoxicillin, doxycycline and other combination drug such as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Strict compliance with the antibiotic therapy is important. Generally, this means you’ll need to take them for 10 to 14 days ” even after your symptoms get better to avoid recurring symptoms or antibiotic resistance.

In rare cases, antifungal medications can be used to treat acute sinusitis of fungal origin and immunotherapy for acute sinusitis associated with allergies.

Home Remedies

Home treatment usually begins with keeping yourself well-hydrated to help dilute mucous secretions and to promote drainage. Optimal rest is also important to speed up recovery. Other remedies include humidifiers, steam vapours and warm compresses:

  • Rest sufficiently “ lack of sleep can severely affect your body's immunity and its ability to speed recovery
  • Sleep with your head elevated
  • Drink plenty of fluids “ water and vegetable or fruit juice are best options “ avoid processed food and fizzy drinks
  • Apply a warm damp towel to your face to relieve pain
  • Moisten sinus cavities by inhaling the steam from a pot of hot water “ be careful!
  • Rinse out nasal passage with a special squeeze bottle for sinusitis to clean your sinuses