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What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is the most chronic condition in the United States, affecting tens of millions of Americans every year.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology:

"Sinusitis is an acute or chronic inflammation of the nasal sinuses-the hollow cavities found within the cheek bones and near the eyes. The inflammation is usually triggered by inadequate draining due to allergies, infections or structural problems of the nose such as narrow drainage passages or a deviated septum. Sinuses help warm, moisten and filter the air in the nasal cavity and also add resonance to certain sounds. The three major signs indicating sinusitis are listed below. If you recognize a symptom in yourself or your child, see an specialist for a proper examination and diagnosis.

  • Your cold has lasted more than seven days and is accompanied by cough, fever, headache, toothache, facial pain, green or grey nasal drainage, or post-nasal drip.
  • You have lost your sense of smell and taste and have bad breath accompanied by chronic congestion.
  • In children, increased irritability and vomiting occurs with gagging on mucus and/or a prolonged cough."

The National Institutes of Health describes sinusitis as follows:

"You're coughing and sneezing and tired and achy. You think that you might be getting a cold. Later, when the medicines you've been taking to relieve the symptoms of the common cold are not working and you've now got a terrible headache, you finally drag yourself to the doctor. After listening to your history of symptoms, examining your face and forehead, and perhaps doing a sinus X-ray, the doctor says you have sinusitis.

Sinusitis simply means your sinuses are infected or inflamed, but this gives little indication of the misery and pain this condition can cause. Health care experts usually divide sinusitis cases into:

  • Acute, which lasts for 3 weeks or less
  • Chronic, which usually lasts for 3 to 8 weeks but can continue for months or even years
  • Recurrent, which is several acute attacks within a year

Health care experts estimate that 37 million Americans are affected by sinusitis every year. Health care workers report 33 million cases of chronic sinusitis to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention annually. Americans spend millions of dollars each year for medications that promise relief from their sinus symptoms."

Health care expenditures to treat sinusitis cost the U.S. health care system nearly $6 billion every year, according to the U.S. Government's Agency for Health Care Research and Quality.

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