Sinuses are part of the upper respiratory system. They are empty cavities within your cheek bones, around your eyes and behind your nose. The sinuses contain mucus, which helps to warm, moisten and filter air in your nasal cavity. When the mucus membranes that line the sinus cavities become inflamed, this is called sinusitis or a sinus infection. Sinusitis is often called rhinosinusitis because the symptoms of sinusitis and rhinitis are very similar. Rhinitis is a swelling of the mucous membranes of the nose while sinusitis includes swelling of the sinuses in addition to the nasal passages.
Sinusitis symptoms frequently develop after a cold or during times of severe or ongoing allergic rhinitis symptoms. A stuffy nose and cough lasting longer than 10-14 days or worsens after 7-10 days, may be more than a cold. Signs of sinusitis include: painful pressure in the cheeks and forehead, thick yellow-green nasal discharge, postnasal drip, cough, congestion or toothache.
Acute sinusitis is sinusitis lasting less than four weeks. People with allergic rhinitis or asthma are more likely to suffer from chronic sinusitis which can last three months or longer. Allergic rhinitis puts you at risk for developing sinusitis because allergies can cause swelling of the sinusitis and nasal linings. When the sinus cavities are unable to drain due to swelling, this increases your chances of developing a secondary bacterial sinusitis.
Sinusitis can be caused by a fungus, deviated nasal septum or nasal polyps, as well as allergy or infection. Many patients who have recurring or chronic sinusitis have more than one factor that puts them at risk of infection. So, it is essential to have an accurate diagnosis. In many cases allergies play a significant role and an allergist can help with managing your symptoms.