a diagram of acute sinusitis

What is Acute Sinusitis?

Acute sinusitis is the most common form of sinusitis, which is otherwise known as a sinus infection. Acute means your sinusitis developed suddenly and will resolve fairly quickly. Although four to twelve weeks may seem like an endless misery, it isn’t horrible compared to the months or years that chronic forms may persist. Most commonly, acute sinusitis presents on the tail end of the common cold. Mild cases may be treated with over-the-counter medications; however, if symptoms persist, your physician may want to treat your sinusitis more aggressively.

Acute Sinusitis and the Cold

When acute sinusitis is caused by the cold virus, it is a viral infection. In addition to symptoms associated with the cold such as sneezing, watery eyes, slight fever, and runny nose, you may also experience severe pain and swelling around your eyes, headache, fatigue, and facial tenderness. You may have a sore throat and halitosis (bad breath) due to drainage at the back of your throat, also known as post-nasal drip. Patients experiencing post-nasal drip often complain of coughing. Some patients experience dental pain, neck pain, or ear aches as well. Furthermore, your nasal passages may feel stuffy, and you may have difficulty breathing through your nose.

Treating Acute Sinusitis

Nasal saline sprays, some include a decongestant, will provide temporary relief of acute sinusitis symptoms by moistening your nasal passages and by reducing swelling and pressure build-up. However, when used more than a few days, nasal sprays may worsen your symptoms, so ask your doctor how long you should use nasal sprays. When mild symptoms are present, over-the-counter pain relievers may suffice.

Other Sinusitis Causes

If you have bacterial sinusitis, the openings to your sinuses have been plugged and rather than draining, they have harbored mucous that is a breeding ground for bacteria. When bacteria multiply too quickly, even if otherwise harmless, an infection can occur. In this case, your physician, will most likely treat your sinusitis with antibiotics. To avoid future antibiotic therapy resistance, you will want to finish your course of antibiotics even though your symptoms may cease.

Fungal sinusitis is rarer than other forms. Because the human body is naturally resistant to fungus, the risk of getting fungal sinusitis is minimal. Patients more susceptible to developing fungal sinusitis are those with compromised immune systems, such as patients with HIV. Antifungal drug therapy targets the overgrowth of fungus that causes sinusitis. 


Last Updated: February 10, 2017