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Understanding Respiratory Tract Infections (RTIs)
section: Common Adult RTIs: Acute Sinusitis
page: 4 / 8

Common Adult RTIs: Acute Sinusitis

What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is an inflammatory disease of the sinus. One of the most commonly reported diseases in the United States, it affects an estimated 35 million people and accounts for more than 11.5 million visits to the doctor each year.8 The cause of sinusitis may be bacterial, viral or fungal.

Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms of acute bacterial sinusitis may initially appear to be residual of a cold or an allergy attack but become more severe and last for a period of time. They include: excessive production of thick, sticky, yellow-green mucus, or mucus that develops a bad odor or taste; severe pressure and pain in the face and forehead; coughing, and nasal congestion lasting more than 10 to 14 days.9

What Causes Acute Bacterial Sinusitis?
Acute bacterial sinusitis usually starts with an adult viral respiratory infection, such as a cold, or an allergy attack.10 Normally, mucus collecting in the sinuses drains into the nasal passages. A cold or an allergy attack triggers inflammation and swelling of the sinus cavities, which can block proper drainage. Excessive congestion of thick mucus accumulates in the sinuses and becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, thus leading to infection.11

Early diagnosis and effective antibiotic treatment of acute bacterial sinusitis are imperative for the prevention of chronic sinusitis and associated complications.12 Acute bacterial sinusitis is often under-diagnosed, since symptoms can be similar to those of colds and allergies. Sufferers may falsely believe that it is unnecessary to see their doctor and that the infection will resolve on its own.13

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