About 31 million people in the United States suffer from a sinus infection, or sinusitis, each year, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infection Diseases. Women also have sinus infections twice as often as men. The categorization of a sinus infection depends on how long the person has had symptoms. For example, if the symptoms last up to four weeks, it is considered an acute sinus infection, while it is a subacute sinus infection if it lasts between four and 12 weeks. Patients who have chronic sinus infections experience symptoms for over 12 months. For some people, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases added that for some people, the sinus infection can last for months or years.
To receive a diagnosis of a chronic sinus infection, the patient must have two of the following four symptoms, according to the MayoClinic.com: a reduced sense of taste and smell; nasal congestion which makes it difficult to breathe using the nose; pain and swelling around the forehead, eyes, nose or cheeks; thick discharge drainage that goes down the back of the throat or comes from the nose which appears yellow or greenish. Patients may have other symptoms, such as fatigue, a sore throat, halitosis, ear pain and aching of the teeth and upper jaw. MedlinePlus added that the symptoms of a chronic sinus infection tend to be milder that the symptoms of an acute sinus infection.
Certain people have a higher risk of having a chronic sinus infection. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology noted that patients with either asthma or allergic rhinitis are at higher risk because their “airways are more likely to become inflamed.” To diagnosis a chronic sinus infection, the patient may need to undergo different scans, such as a CT scan or X-ray. The doctor may use different laboratory tests to rule out other conditions, such as using a blood test to rule out cystic fibrosis or an immune deficiency disorder, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Two treatment options for a chronic sinus infection exist: medication and surgery. If a patient opts for medication, she may use a nasal steroid spray, oral steroid, saline nasal sprays or antibiotics. Surgery may be done if the symptoms do not go away with medication.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. What is Sinusitis?. National Institutes of Health, 2011. Web. 10 August 2011
Mayo Clinic Staff. Chronic Sinusitis. MayoClinic.com, 2010. Web. 10 August 2011
A.D.A.M. Sinusitis. MedlinePlus, 2010. Web. 10 August 2011
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Sinusitis Overview. Web. 10 August 2011
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. How is Sinusitis Diagnosed?. National Institutes of Health, 2011. Web. 10 August 2011
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. How is Sinusitis Treated?. National Institutes of Health, 2011. Web. 10 August 2011
Dutton, Jay M. Complications of Nasal and Sinus Surgery. American Rhinologic Society. Web 10 August 2011
Reviewed August 11, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith