What is acute sinusitis?

Question: What is acute sinusitis?

Answer: The sinuses are pockets of air in our facial and skull bones next to the nose. We have the maxillary sinuses in our cheek bones at birth and as we grow and our heads enlarge, more of these pockets form – the frontal sinuses in our foreheads, ethmoidal sinuses between our eyes and the sphenoid sinuses right at the back of the nose. The adult head would probably be too heavy to hold up if it were all solid bone without these air spaces! They also give us our richer and more resonant voices as we mature, hence the flat nasal voice when we come down with a cold. Sinusitis is basically infection of the sinuses, occurring commonly when we come down with a cold which is prolonged and when the mucus turns yellowish and greenish. In the first few weeks, it is termed acute and when symptoms extend beyond 2 to 3 months, it is termed chronic.

Btw, what most people term as “sinus” with symptoms of nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing and itch is really a nasal allergy (allergic rhinitis) and not even a sinus problem. Acute sinusitis usually causes facial pain and headaches. There is yellowish mucus which sometimes causes a postnatal drip and coughing at night may be the only symptom! There is often persistent loss of smell or even a foul smell.

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