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What Is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is a respiratory condition that affects over 35 million Americans a year and tens of millions more people throughout the world. The cause can be anything from bacteria and funga to viruses. Sinusitis is the number one chronic disease in the United States. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) describes sinusitis as an inflammation of the nasal sinuses that can "be caused by colds, allergies, problems with the immune system or structural problems in the nasal cavity. Left undiagnosed or untreated, sinusitis can cause further complications with the nose, eyes or middle ear and may last for months or even years."

There are two types of sinusitis:

Chronic Sinusitis
Chronic Sinusitis usually lasts more than three months. It causes a great amount of pain and discomfort, even with medication. It is hard for someone who has never had a sinus infection to understand how sinusitis interferes with a person's ability to do daily tasks.

According to the AAAAI, "Chronic sinusitis symptoms are similar to those of acute sinusitis (i.e., thick nasal or postnasal drainage, discomfort in the cheeks, forehead or around the eyes, nasal congestion, cough and headache). However, patients usually do not have a fever.”

A connection to Chronic Sinusitis can be allergies and asthma. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases: "“If you have asthma, an allergic disease, you may have frequent episodes of chronic sinusitis.

If you are allergic to airborne allergens, such as dust, mold, and pollen, which trigger allergic rhinitis, you may develop chronic sinusitis. In addition, people who are allergic to fungi can develop a condition called 'allergic fungal sinusitis.'"

Unfortunately it's very difficult to target what the trigger of chronic sinusitis is in a sufferer and this sometimes makes it difficult to treat. As explained by the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases:

"Some investigators think it is an infectious disease but others are not certain. It is an inflammatory disease that often occurs in patients with asthma. If you have asthma, an allergic disease, you may have chronic sinusitis with exacerbations. If you are allergic to airborne allergens, such as dust, mold, and pollen, which trigger allergic rhinitis, you may develop chronic sinusitis. An immune response to antigens in fungi may be responsible for at least some cases of chronic sinusitis. In addition, people who are allergic to fungi can develop a condition called "allergic fungal sinusitis." If you are subject to getting chronic sinusitis, damp weather, especially in northern temperate climates, or pollutants in the air and in buildings also can affect you."

Acute Sinusitis
Acute Sinusitis isn't nearly as bad as chronic sinusitis as it generally lasts for less than one month. Acute sinusitis is an infection of one of a person's paranasal sinuses that generally responds well to treatment.

According to The American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery, Acute sinusitis "is an infection of the sinus cavities caused by bacteria. It is usually preceded by a cold, allergy attack, or irritation by environmental pollutants."

L.J. Fagnan, M.D., the chief of clinical services in the Department of Family Medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine, says that "Acute bacterial sinusitis usually occurs following an upper respiratory infection that results in obstruction of the osteomeatal complex, impaired mucociliary clearance and overproduction of secretions."

Regarding treatments, he states, "Since sinusitis is self-limited in 40 to 50 percent of patients, the expensive, newer-generation antibiotics should not be used as first-line therapy. First-line antibiotics such as amoxicillin or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole are as effective in the treatment of sinusitis as the more expensive antibiotics."

 
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