When we feel our noses running, our sinuses feel blocked, or we have to blow our noses more often than usual, it can be a sign of an infection. The infection is called sinusitis, and it’s caused when the mucous membranes in your nose become inflamed and swollen.
Sinusitis isn’t usually serious if you have the acute form. It usually lasts under 12 weeks and clears up after a few days with self-care at home or with treatment from your doctor.
If you want to know more about acute sinusitis and its duration, read on.
What is acute sinusitis?
Acute sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses that can be caused by viruses or bacteria. The sinuses are hollow air-filled cavities in the face that can become inflamed and filled with fluids, leading to a range of uncomfortable symptoms.
The duration of acute sinusitis depends on the underlying cause. Viral infections usually last a few weeks while bacterial infections may take up to 12 weeks to resolve. Treatment with antibiotics is usually recommended for bacterial infections.
How do you get acute sinusitis?
In most cases, someone can catch acute sinusitis after a cold or flu virus. This occurs because the inflamed tissue in the nose during an infection can block the openings of the sinuses, leading to increased pressure and further infection.
Allergies and environmental irritants may also cause acute sinusitis. These include cigarette smoke, dust particles, mold spores, and other pollutants in the air. If a person is exposed to these substances often, they may be more prone to acute sinusitis.
What are the symptoms of acute sinusitis?
The most common symptom of acute sinusitis is a blocked nose with a thick, greenish-yellow discharge coming from it.
Other symptoms include:
- Bad breath
- Pain and tenderness around the eyes and forehead
Some elevated symptoms may include facial swelling and pain in the teeth or jaw. If this happens, be sure to rush to the nearest emergency room in order to get proper medical attention.
Acute Sinusitis Causes
As mentioned, acute sinusitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. However, in some cases, it can be caused by:
- A deviated septum
- Allergies and environmental irritants, such as mold, pollen, or dust mites
- Polyps on the lining of the nose and sinuses
- Foreign objects in the nasal cavity (in children)
It is also possible to have a fungal infection, although this is rare.
How is acute sinusitis diagnosed?
Acute sinusitis is diagnosed through some tests, including but not limited to:
- Physical examination of the nose
- X-ray of the sinuses
- CT scan of the sinuses
- Nasal endoscopy – to look for any blockages or polyps in the nasal cavity
Your doctor may also use a swab to collect a sample from your nose, which will help determine whether you have a bacterial or viral infection.
What are the risk factors for acute sinusitis?
There can be several risk factors for acute sinusitis, including:
- Smoking – This can increase the chances of a sinus infection due to the irritating substances in cigarettes.
- Colds and other viral infections
- A weak immune system
- Nasal polyps – These are noncancerous growths in the nasal cavity that can block airflow.
Among those mentioned, colds and viruses are the most common cause of acute sinusitis. People who have weakened immune systems may also be more prone to sinus infections.
Treatment for Acute Sinusitis
When it comes to treatment, the focus should be on relieving the symptoms of acute sinusitis.
This can include:
- Using nasal irrigation with saline solution
- Taking over-the-counter pain medications and decongestants
- Using a humidifier to help loosen any mucus
- Taking antibiotics, if a bacterial infection is present
If the sinusitis is caused by allergies or environmental irritants, your doctor may suggest taking antihistamines, avoiding allergens, or using air purifiers.
In some cases, surgery may be recommended if there are nasal polyps or a deviated septum causing the sinusitis.
What are the complications of acute sinusitis?
If the risks are high and acute sinusitis is not treated correctly, it can lead to several complications.
These can include:
- A bacterial or fungal infection of the eye socket
- Brain abscess
- Bone infection in the upper jaw
- Hearing loss due to fluid buildup within the ear canal
- Rarely, is a hole in the bone between the nose and brain
How to Prevent Acute Sinusitis
As always, prevention is always better than cure. To reduce your chances of getting acute sinusitis, it is important to practice good hygiene and healthy habits:
- Wash your hands regularly
- Avoid touching your face
- Quit smoking if you smoke
- Use air purifiers to filter out allergens from the environment
- Stay away from people who are sick
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Take multivitamin supplements, if needed
These precautions should help reduce your chances of developing acute sinusitis.
Treat Your Acute Sinusitis Right Away
Acute sinusitis is a common condition that can be caused by viral or bacterial infections, allergies, environmental irritants, and other factors. It is usually diagnosed with a physical examination of the nose, an X-ray or CT scan of the sinuses, and nasal endoscopy.
Treatment for acute sinusitis includes relieving symptoms with various medications and treatments, depending on the cause. Complications can arise if acute sinusitis is not treated properly, so it is important to get treatment as soon as possible.
Additionally, practicing good hygiene and healthy habits is the best way to prevent acute sinusitis from occurring in the first place. If you have any questions or concerns about acute sinusitis, it is best to consult your doctor for advice.
At SilverLake ER, we accommodate any medical emergency including acute sinusitis. If you believe that you are experiencing the symptoms of acute sinusitis, please call our 24/7 hotline for a quick diagnosis and treatment plan.
We greatly look forward to providing you with excellent healthcare services!