Sinusitis: Inflammation Of the Nasal Passages

What Is Sinusitis?

inflamed nasal passages

Sinusitis, also known as a sinus infection, is an inflammation of the air cavities within the nasal passages. Sinusitis can range in severity from mild (lasting 2 to 4 weeks) to severe (lasting over 12 weeks). It is a very common condition, affecting more than 3 million people per year in the U.S.


Sinusitis is usually the result of another underlying condition. This may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Viral infections
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Allergies
  • Environmental factors
  • Nasal polyps
  • Nasal tumors
  • Deviated nasal septum
  • Weakened immune systems
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Asthma


Acute Sinusitis

Acute sinusitis refers to sinusitis that lasts 2 to 4 weeks.

Subacute Sinus Inflammation

Subacute sinus inflammation refers to sinusitis that lasts 4 to 12 weeks.

Chronic Sinus Inflammation

Chronic sinus inflammation refers to sinusitis that lasts longer than 12 weeks.

Recurrent Sinusitis

Recurrent sinusitis refers to patients who have frequent bouts of acute sinusitis.


  • Nasal discharges
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal obstruction
  • Facial pressure
  • Tenderness in the sinus area
  • Swelling in the sinus area
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Impaired/Decreased sense of smell



Your primary care physician can diagnose sinusitis based on a physical examination and assessment of your symptoms. In chronic or recurrent cases, they may refer you to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist) to rule out serious underlying conditions like nasal tumors. This will likely require diagnostic imaging, such as a CT scan of the nasal passages.


Most acute cases of sinusitis can be resolved with a round of antibiotics. In chronic or recurrent cases, surgical intervention may be necessary. One surgical procedure involves expanding the opening of the sinuses to reduce the occurrences of inflammation.

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