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A stuffed up nose and pressure on our cheekbones can often mean you have acute sinusitis. Acute sinusitis, also called acute rhinosinusitis, is a short-term infection or inflammation of the membranes that line your sinuses. It prevents mucus from draining from your nose. According to the American Academy of Otarlaryngology (AAO), acute sinusitis is common, affecting more than 37 million Americans a year. (AAO)
Illnesses and conditions that can cause acute sinusitis include:
The following factors can increase your risk of developing acute sinusitis:
Symptoms of acute sinusitis include:
Diagnosing acute sinusitis usually involves a physical exam. Your doctor will gently tap your sinuses with his fingers to identify an infection. The exam may involve looking into your nose with a light to identify inflammation, polyps, tumors, or other abnormalities.
Your doctor may also perform the following tests to confirm diagnosis:
Your doctor may look into your nose using a nasal endoscope, a thin, flexible fiberoptic scope. The scope helps your doctor identify inflammation or other abnormalities in your sinuses.
Your doctor may order a CT scan or MRI to look for inflammation or sinus abnormalities.
Most cases of acute sinusitis can be treated with home treatments, which include:
Your doctor may prescribe prescription antibiotics, anti-fungal medications, or allergy shots for severe acute sinusitis infections.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat the underlying cause of acute sinusitis. Your doctor may perform surgery to remove nasal polyps or tumors, correct a deviated nasal septum, or clean and drain your sinuses.
The following alternative treatments may help relieve your acute sinusitis symptoms:
Nasturtium herb and horseradish are beneficial for relieving sinusitis symptoms, and produce minimal side effects. (Goos, et al., 2006) Ask your doctor about safety and dosages.
While no hard scientific evidence exists to confirm their effectiveness in treating this condition, some people report that acupuncture and acupressure provide some relief for acute sinusitis caused by allergies.
Most cases of acute sinusitis clear up with home treatment. Sometimes acute sinusitis does not clear up and leads to sub-acute sinusitis (lasting four to 12 weeks), or chronic sinusitis (lasting three months or longer). In very rare cases, sinusitis can lead to an infection that spreads to your eyes, ears, or bones, or causes meningitis. Call your healthcare provider if you experience a severe headache that does not respond to medication, a fever, or vision changes that occur during your acute sinusitis infection; these may be signs the infection has spread outside your sinuses.
You may be able to prevent getting acute sinusitis. Here’s how:
Written by: Rose Kivi
Medically reviewed on: Sep 28, 2012: George Krucik, MD
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