Running Nose & Sneezing

Running Nose & Sneezing

Patients often use the term ‘sinus’ to refer to a variety of nasal conditions, ranging from simple allergies of the nose to true sinus infections.

What is sinusitis?

A sinus infection can be described as a cold that does not go away. Patients usually describe nasal congestion, thick coloured discharge, and pain and tenderness in various areas around the face, depending on which sinuses are involved.

Generally, if the condition is present for less than three weeks, it is categorised as acute sinusitis. Acute sinus infections usually respond to antibiotics and other adjuvant treatments.

If the condition persists for more than three months, it is termed chronic sinusitis. These infections can spread into the windpipes and the lungs, causing a chronic cough or bronchitis, and can contribute to a worsening of asthma. Chronic sinusitis usually involves longer courses of antibiotics and can sometimes require sinus surgery.

An episode of sinusitis lasting between three weeks and three months may be termed sub-acute sinusitis.

Do I have sinusitis?

Acute sinusitis can often be diagnosed with relative ease based on symptoms and simple physical examination. However, chronic sinusitis usually requires a comprehensive endoscopic nasal examination (Figure 1) and, sometimes, computed tomography (CT) scan of the paranasal sinuses (Figure 2) for an accurate diagnosis.

Figure 1: Endoscopic nasal examination

Figure 2: CT scan of the paranasal sinuses