Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
The sinuses are hollow areas in the skull that are arranged in pairs. Sinusitis occurs when the tissue lining the sinuses in the skull around the nose (the paranasal sinuses) becomes inflamed and infected. Sinusitis usually occurs with inflammation in the nasal passages (rhinitis). When they occur together, it is called rhinosinusitis. The infections are categorized by the length of time symptoms are present:
Several viral, bacterial, or other causes are associated with acute sinusitis.
All are bacteria that are often found in the nose and throat of healthy people, and which cause other common conditions, such as
ear infections. A viral upper respiratory infection such as the common cold often occurs just before developing a bacterial infection.
Certain other bacteria and fungi, can be a cause of chronic sinusitis.
Sinusitis starts with swelling of the nasal and sinus passages. Tiny hairs called cilia usually move constantly to help shift mucus out of the sinuses. With sinusitis, these hairs stop working as well as they should. Both the swelling and lack of movement from cilia make it difficult for mucus to move out of the sinuses. This buildup of mucus and air create the pressure and pain associated with sinusitis. It also creates a place for bacteria and viruses to grow.
Sinusitis is an extremely common problem. In a given year, about 37 million Americans suffer from sinusitis.
Acute sinusitis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T902952/Acute-sinusitis-in-adults. Updated September 12, 2016. Accessed October 5, 2016.
Alho OP. Viral infections and susceptibility to recurrent sinusitis.
Curr Allergy Asthma Rep.
Chronic rhinosinusitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115673/Chronic-rhinosinusitis. Updated July 25, 2016. Accessed October 5, 2016.
Sinusitis. American Academy of Otolaryngology website. Available at:
http://www.entnet.org/content/sinusitis. Accessed January 9, 2013.
Sinusitis overview. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. Available at:
http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/allergies/sinusitis.aspx. Accessed January 9, 2013.
Last reviewed September 2016 by David Horn, MD
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © EBSCO Information Services. All rights reserved.