Health Q&A

February 25, 2002|By Christine L. Moats

Chronic Sinusitis

Health Q & A By Christine L. Moats

Q: What are the signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis?

A:Sinusitis is an inflammation of the membrane lining of any sinus. Acute sinusitis is a short-term condition that responds well to antibiotics and decongestants. Chronic sinusitis is characterized by at least four recurrences of acute sinusitis. Possible treatments include medication or surgery.

If you have chronic sinusitis, you may have the following symptoms for 12 weeks or more:

- facial pain/pressure

- facial congestion/fullness

- nasal obstruction blockage

- thick nasal discharge/discolored post-nasal drainage

- pus in the naval cavity


- fever

You may also experience headache, bad breath and fatigue.

Acute sinusitis may include all of the symptoms listed above as well as dental pain, diminished sense of smell and a cough.

It can last four weeks or more. You may have acute sinusitis if you have two or more symptoms and/or the presence of thick, green or yellow nasal discharge. It is generally treated with 10 to 14 days of antibiotic medication.

Acute bacterial infection may be present when symptoms worsen after five days, persist after 10 days or the severity of the symptoms is out of proportion to those normally associated with a viral infection.

Q:What measures can be taken to relieve sinus pain?

A: Warm moist air may relieve sinus congestion. A vaporizer or steam from a pan of boiled water (removed from the heat) are both recommended. If you use a humidifiers, make sure it has a clean filter to prevent spraying bacteria or fungal spores into the air. Warm compresses are useful in relieving pain in the nose and sinuses. Saline nose drops are safe for use at home.

If symptoms persist, see your physician.

Information for this column was taken from the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. For additional information, check out the web site at

Christine L. Moats is wellness coordinator at Washington County Hospital. If you have health questions, send them to or to Lifestyle, Herald-Mail, 100 Summit Ave., Hagerstown, MD 21740.

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