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Sinusitis - Acute and Chronic Sinusitis

Acute and Chronic Sinusitis

Sinusitis, the inflammation of the mucous membranes in the sinuses, is a very common disorder. In general, it is caused by infection, allergies, and irritation from toxic substances in the air. There are two types, and you should know the difference so that you can seek appropriate medical treatment.

What Are the Two Types

The first is acute sinusitis. The second type, chronic, or recurring, sinusitis is more complex-and more common.

Do the Treatments Differ

Acute sinusitis usually responds well to antibiotics, decongestants, and antihistamines. If there is pus within a sinus cavity, it must be drained. For chronic sinusitis, medication may be temporarily effective. If symptoms recur or persist, then a more detailed assessment is required to determine whether surgery is needed.

Which Type Do You Have

To find out whether you have acute or chronic sinusitis, simply check the symptoms below that apply:

  • pain in only one area
  • The sudden start of pain
  • Discolored drainage on one side of the nose
  • Congestion (stuffiness) on one side of the nose
  • Congestion on both sides of the nose
  • Frequent and sometimes severe headaches
  • pressure in the head that may be intense

If you have the first four symptoms only, you probably have acute sinusitis. If your symptoms are those in the second half of the list, you probably have chronic sinusitis.

How Can You Be Sure

If you think you have acute sinusitis, you should see your family doctor. He or she will probably diagnose your condition according to the "rule of one":

  • One area of pain
  • Drainage on one side of the nose
  • Stuffiness on one side of the nose If you think you have chronic sinusitis, you should see a specialist, who will probably diagnose the problem with the help of a CT scan of the sinus cavity.

How Does Chronic Sinusitis Develop

Chronic sinusitis usually develops when inflamed mucosal lining and anatomical obstruction make it impossible for the sinuses to drain properly.

The body constantly produces mucus as a lubricant. In the sinus cavities, this lubricant is moved across tissue linings toward the opening of each sinus by millions of hair-like cilia. If one of these openings is already narrow, inflammation can cause it to swell completely shut and block the movement of mucus. Surgery may be needed to correct the problem.

What Will Surgery Do

Surgery to correct chronic sinusitis performs two functions. First, it enlarges the natural opening. Since the cilia move mucus in only one direction-toward the natural opening in each sinus-creating a second opening that is not at the natural site would not help because the cilia would simply ignore it.

Second, it leaves many cilia in place. procedures that reduce the number of active cilia, whether by creating holes or scar tissue, block the movement of mucus and are less effective.

Endoscopic sinus surgery is the most effective procedure because it restores the flow of mucus by removing areas of obstruction. This permanently restores the normal flow of mucus and air through the natural sinus openings.

What Can You Expect From Surgery

A simple procedure is usually performed under local or general anesthesia, with patients returning to normal activities within a day or two, and complete recovery taking about four weeks. procedures for more complex cases, however, can last four or five hours under general anesthesia, with the recovery process taking longer. The physician will follow up as needed according to the type and complexity of surgery.

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