Simply put, sinusitis is the swelling of the lining in your sinuses. When this swelling prevents fluid from draining to your nose — like when you have a cold — it can build up over time. A sinus infection occurs when this fluid becomes home to germs like bacteria and fungus, which can cause the swelling and symptoms can get worse.
And sinusitis can come with a variety of symptoms, including:
- Stuffy, runny nose
- Facial or sinus pain — depending on where your sinuses are infected
- Yellow or green nasal discharge
- Painful teeth
- Bad breath
Diagnosing acute and chronic sinusitis
Acute sinusitis is sudden and typically lasts for approximately 4 weeks or less. If the infection (and, consequently, your symptoms) last longer than 12 weeks, then it’s known as chronic sinusitis.
Diagnosing sinusitis can be difficult to do since it closely mimics the symptoms of a cold — especially early on. If you see your healthcare provider, you may be referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist (who may use a scope to help diagnose your symptoms) or other specialist (like an allergist) to find the cause or identify what’s making your sinusitis worse, and recommend treatment.
Treatment options for acute and chronic sinusitis
If you’re in good health and feel a sinus infection coming on, you may be able to treat it at home.
To help reduce congestion and ease sinus pain, try these home treatment options:
- Drink plenty of water
- Apply a hot, moist facecloth to your face, several times a day
- Breathe in steam from a shower, bath or pan of hot water (taken off the heat source)
- Use a humidifier to relieve dry air in your home
- Flush out your sinuses using a saline solution (for instance, by using a Neti pot or spray)
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