Accessibility Tools

What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is the inflammation of the lining of the sinuses (air-filled cavities within the bone) located in the bones of the face and skull. These sinuses are connected to the nasal passages and serve various functions, including producing mucus to help moisturize the nasal passages and trap airborne particles and pathogens. 

Causes of Sinusitis

Some common causes and contributing factors of sinusitis include:

  • Viral and bacterial infections.
  • Allergic reactions to airborne allergens such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander, and mold. 
  • Nasal polyps that are noncancerous growths that can develop in the nasal and sinus passages.
  • Deviated nasal septum, a structural issue in which the partition between the nostrils is crooked or off-center blocking sinus drainage.
  • Lower respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
  • Environmental irritants like cigarette smoke, air pollution, and chemicals that can irritate the nasal passages and contribute to sinusitis.
  • Activities, particularly swimming and diving, which can introduce water and potentially harmful microorganisms into the nasal passages, leading to a condition known as "swimmer's sinusitis".
  • Weakened immune system disorders which may occur in those who are on immunosuppressive medications.
  • Ear infections.

Symptoms of Sinusitis

The common symptoms associated with sinusitis include:

  • Nasal congestion (blocked or stuffy nose)
  • Facial pain or pressure particularly around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead
  • Headache
  • Thick nasal discharge 
  • Cough which often worsens at night
  • Sore throat
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath

Diagnosis of Sinusitis

Your healthcare provider will review your medical history, your symptoms, and any previous episodes of sinusitis and allergy. A physical examination will be conducted to assess your nasal passages and facial areas for signs of sinusitis. Your healthcare provider may order the following tests:

  • CT (Computed Tomography) Scan which provides detailed images of the sinuses and can reveal the extent of inflammation, the presence of polyps, or other structural abnormalities.
  • X-rays used to visualize the sinus cavities.
  • Nasal endoscopy which involves inserting a thin, flexible tube with a camera into the nasal passages to examine the sinuses directly. It's often done when there are concerns about nasal polyps or other structural issues.
  • Cultures are used when there is a suspicion of bacterial sinusitis. A nasal swab or sinus aspirate may be taken to culture the bacteria and determine which antibiotics are most effective.
  • Allergy testing is performed when allergies are suspected as a contributing factor, such as skin prick tests or blood tests.

Treatment of Sinusitis

Treatment of sinusitis includes:

  • Rest and hydration.
  • Using a humidifier in your room or taking steam showers to help moisten the nasal passages and relieve congestion.
  • Applying warm compresses to your face to provide relief from facial pain and pressure.
  • Nasal irrigation using saline nasal sprays that can flush mucus and irritants from the nasal passages, reducing congestion and improving breathing.
  • Nasal decongestants that can help to manage symptoms like nasal congestion and headache.
  • Antibiotics to treat bacterial infection.
  • Nasal corticosteroids to reduce inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses.
  • Antifungal medications to treat fungal sinusitis.
  • Allergy medications such as antihistamines, allergy shots (immunotherapy), or other allergy medications to control symptoms.
  • Endoscopic sinus surgery can be performed in cases of chronic sinusitis that does not respond to other treatments or when structural issues are present (e.g., nasal polyps, deviated septum). This procedure can help improve sinus drainage and remove obstructions.
  • Avoiding specific triggers, such as allergens or environmental irritants.
  • Practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly and avoiding close contact with individuals who have colds or respiratory infections.

Location & DirectionsENT Jacksonville

1370 13th Avenue South, Suite 115 Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

  • American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery
  • American College of Surgeons
  • Georgetown University School of Medicine
  • Miller School of Medicine