Sinusitis can be acute or chronic, for the purposes of this article the focus will be on acute sinusitis. Another name for sinusitis is acute rhinosinusitis. Sinusitis is inflammation of the nasal and paranasal sinuses. Acute sinusitis lasts for 4 weeks or less.
The most common cause of sinusitis is a viral infection. Symptoms usually resolve in 7 to 10 days. Thick, yellow or green nasal discharge, nasal congestion , facial pain or pressure, fever, fatigue, ear fullness, headache, difficulty or decreased ability to smell are all symptoms of sinusitis. Saline irrigation, nasal steroids, steam and humidified air are usually used to manage symptoms. Other medications that may be used include antihistamines, especially if symptoms are related to allergies; however, these medications can have a drying effect.
Most of the symptoms of viral sinusitis will improve with the above treatment. However, it is difficult to differentiate between viral and bacterial sinusitis. If symptoms last more than 10 days or symptoms initially improve but then worsen within 7 days, bacterial sinusitis may be the issue. For bacterial sinusitis most people expect an antibiotic, but symptoms of bacterial infection can also resolve with symptomatic treatment.
Symptoms such as high persistent fever >102, severe facial pain or headache, changes in vision, stiff neck , swelling or redness around the eyes warrant prompt medical attention. However, most people with sinusitis will experience improvement in 7 to 10 days with patience and treatment.
If you are concerned about sinusitis, and your symptoms are not improving, call your primary care doctor. If they cannot see you or you do not have a PCP, call or text us at Compassion Primary, a direct primary care (dpc) practice. You can be seen as a non-member or become a member.