Sinusitis is a term which refers to inflammation of the lining of the sinuses. This lining is called mucosa. When the mucosa gets inflamed obstruction of the sinus drainage pathways can occur. Things that can trigger inflammation of the mucosa are a cold, allergies, a deviated septum, reflux disease, nasal polyps and certain chronic diseases.

What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis refers to inflammation (swelling) or irritation of the sinuses. This inflammation can block the narrow passages in the sinuses and prevent mucous from draining properly leading to infection.

Symptoms of Sinusitis

The most commonly experienced sinus-related symptoms are noted below. If you have two or more of these symptoms...

  • Sinus infections that persist for weeks or months
  • Discolored nasal drainage
  • Nasal congestion
  • Mouth breathing
  • Lethargy/Lack of energy
  • Headaches
  • Inability to breathe through one or both sides of your nose
  • Facial pain
  • Sore upper teeth

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Types of Sinusitis:

  • Acute Sinusitis – Refers to a sinus infection that lasts less than 8 weeks
  • Chronic Sinusitis - Refers to a sinus infection that lasts more than 8 weeks but can continue for months or even years
  • Recurrent Acute – Repeated acute infections

In general infections can be bacterial or fungal in origin. Bacterial infections are by far the most common. Fungal infections are much less frequent.

What Causes Sinusitis?

The causes of sinusitis are numerous and varied. Some of these causes are easily treated through avoidance and medications; for some, surgical treatment may be necessary.

The most common causes of sinusitis are listed to the left, with thorough descriptions of and treatments for each one.

See how sinusitis is diagnosed ›