What is “Sinus”?

Sinuses are the hollow spaces in the bones of your face, located near your nose, eyes and cheeks. It helps to produce mucus which traps dust and allergens.

Sometimes, we describe allergic rhinitis colloquially as “sinus”. This tends to manifest in blocked nose, nasal itch, runny nose and sneezing click here.

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is the inflammation of the tissues lining the sinuses. It can occur when the sinuses are blocked and infection can fester.

What are the symptoms of sinusitis?

Commonly, sinusitis can present with:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Nasal discharge (usually thick and yellow or green colored)
  • Facial pressure
  • Post nasal drip

How do I tell the difference between sinusitis and the common cold?

You can usually differentiate the 2 by their duration. The common cold usually comes on and disappears within a week. A common cold can precede sinusitis.

How do I know if I have allergies or sinusitis?

Usually allergies manifest as sneezing, nasal itch, runny nose and blocked nose. It has similar symptoms to sinusitis. Allergic rhinitis is also a risk factor to getting sinusitis.

Your doctor would be able to take a detailed history of your symptoms. 

What can cause sinusitis?

Sinusitis is usually caused by pathogens such as virus, fungus or bacteria. The infection causes inflammation which blocks up the sinuses. There are some predisposing factors that contribute to sinusitis such as:

  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Nasal polyps
  • Deviated nasal septum
  • Poor immunity 
  • Smoking 

How do you diagnose sinusitis?

Your doctor will usually take a detailed history and perform a physical examination. Your ENT specialist will be able to perform a flexible nasoendoscope to look inside the nose, looking for pus and swelling. Occasionally, you may require further imaging (CT scan).

How is sinusitis treated?

Depending on the duration and severity of symptoms, there are different treatment methods. 

Sinusitis may need to be treated with antibiotics, decongestants, nasal rinses and intranasal steroid sprays. For chronic sinusitis that does not respond to treatment, a CT scan may be necessary. Depending on the CT images, your doctor may recommend surgery.

Is sinusitis dangerous?

As the sinuses are close to vital organs such as brain and eyes, it can cause complications. In severe cases of sinusitis, infection can spread to the brain and the eyes. 

How do I prevent sinusitis?

If you have allergies, avoiding allergens may help prevent sinusitis. If necessary, your doctor may give you medications to treat your allergic rhinitis as well.