What is sinusitis?
Sinusitis is inflammation of your sinuses.  It is separate from rhinitis, which is inflammation of your nose.  Most often, these two occur together, which is termed rhinosinusitis.  

The symptoms of sinusitis can be similar to that of the common cold, but last longer than the 7-10 days of viral infections.  Symptoms include difficulty breathing through the nose, increased mucus that you blow out the front of your nose or runs down the back of the throat, pain or pressure in your face, decreased sense of smell, fatigue, fever, or cough.  The mucous does not have to colored, but often is.

Sinusitis can occur in numerous forms.  Acute sinusitis is what most people typically describe as a “sinus infection” that occurs after a cold.  It lasts longer than the 7-10 days of the typical cold, but lasts less than a month.  Many will resolve without prescription medications, but some require antibiotics and other therapy.  The symptoms of acute sinusitis resolve completely but may return (recurrent acute sinusitis)

By definition, chronic rhinosinusitis occurs when some number of the above symptoms last longer than 12 weeks.  Diagnosis also includes clear evidence of sinus inflammation as documented by looking in your nose with an endoscope (camera) and/or a CT (cat) scan.  The symptoms of chronic sinusitis are typically similar to acute sinusitis, therefore, the hallmark of chronic rhinosinusitis is a failure of medical therapy and how long the symptoms last.  This medical therapy typically consists of oral antibiotics, nasal steroids and saline washes.  It may also include oral steroids.  

Sub-acute sinusitis is disease that lasts longer than one month, but less than three months.  It is during this interval that maximizing and tailoring medical therapy makes the distinction between sub-optimally treated acute sinusitis and chronic sinusitis.

* Note: The information contained in these pages is for educational purposes only. It should not be construed as individualized diagnostic and treatment advice.