Sinusitis Facts

Sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses, which are cavities, or air-filled pockets, near the nasal passage. Sinusitis usually occurs after a cold or an allergic inflammation. The inside of the sinuses is similar to the inside of the nose. Learn more about sinusitis ›

Could You Have Sinusitis?

Millions of Americans are affected by sinusitis every year. Even so, it's often misdiagnosed and misunderstood by people with the condition.

Sinusitis affects four pairs of sinuses called the paranasal air sinuses, which connect to the nasal passages. Sinusitis is an infection in these sinuses. An infection can be caused by allergies, certain medications, changes in the air or abnormalities in the sinuses themselves. Acute sinusitis is the most common form of this condition.

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Self-Treat? Or See a Doctor?

When you’re sick, knowing whether you should treat yourself at home or see your doctor can save you time and hundreds, possibly thousands, of dollars a year.

For example, you could treat a head cold by taking a $6 over-the-counter (OTC) medication for congestion and cough. The bill just for walking in the door of your doctor’s office could be $50 to $80 or more. Even if you only have to pay $10 to $20 in co-pay for an office visit, using an OTC medication still saves you -- not only money, but also time.

Learn whether or not you should see a doctor

When Your Child Has Sinusitis

Sinuses are hollow spaces in the bones of the face. Healthy sinuses constantly produce and drain mucus, which helps keep the nasal passages clean. But an underlying problem can prevent sinuses from draining properly. This can lead to sinusitis (sinus inflammation and infection). Sinusitis can be acute or chronic. Acute sinusitis comes on suddenly, often after a cold or flu. When acute sinusitis doesn’t go away or comes back often, it’s said to be chronic. Long-lasting sinusitis is usually due to allergies or a physical blockage in the nose.

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Sinusitis: An Infection of the Sinuses

The sinuses are cavities, or air-filled pockets, that are near the nasal passage. There are four different types of sinuses:

  • ethmoid sinus - located inside the face, around the area of the bridge of the nose. This sinus is present at birth, and continues to grow.
  • maxillary sinus - located inside the face, around the area of the cheeks. This sinus is also present at birth, and continues to grow.
  • frontal sinus - located inside the face, in the area of the forehead. This sinus does not develop until around seven years of age.
  • sphenoid sinus - located deep in the face, behind the nose. This sinus does not develop until adolescence.

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Why the Doctor Looks in Your Nose

Have you ever wondered why your health care provider will look inside your nose during an examination? When a patient has a runny nose or congestion, the health care provider needs a good look at the source of the problem.

Providers usually don't look inside your nose unless they have a specific reason. Usually, they are looking for an infection or allergy. Sometimes, they're looking for other sources of your breathing problem, such as a deviated septum which is a shifting of the wall that divides the nasal cavity into halves.

Learn why the doctor looks in your nose

Your Guide to Sinusitis


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