What Is the Difference Between Acute and Chronic Sinusitis?

Green mucus, headache behind the eyes, difficulty breathing, tender cheeks and eyes—these are all common symptoms of sinusitis. Anyone who has had a cold has probably experienced the dull, achy sensation of a blocked nose. These symptoms clear up on their own as your cold dissipates, but sometimes, when your sinusitis is chronic, more aggressive treatment is required. So, what are the differences between acute and chronic sinusitis?

Similar Signs and Symptoms

 Both chronic and acute sinusitis cause postnasal drainage of “irregular” mucus that may be thick with a bright yellow or green tinge that makes it difficult to breathe through your nose no matter how often you expel it. Pressure build-up can make the areas around your sinuses swollen and tender, which worsens when you bend down or tilt your head. If you feel pain and tenderness around your eye sockets and cheeks, you may be feeling symptoms of inflamed sinuses. Other symptoms include headache, runny nose, bad breath, fatigue, ear pain and pressure, cough, and fever.

Different Causes of Sinusitis

The most frequent cause of acute sinusitis is the common cold. It may also be caused by allergies. Taking prescription medication isn’t necessary, as your symptoms should dissipate on their own after 10 days; however, there are many at-home remedies and over-the-counter drugs that can help relieve you of your symptoms and provide temporary relief.

If your sinusitis lasts longer than four weeks, it’s likely a chronic condition caused by a bacterial infection. Other risk factors, such as nasal polyps, a deviated septum, or an immune system disorder may put you at risk of sinusitis.

Different Types of Treatment

 For acute sinusitis, rest and drinking plenty of fluids may be all that you need for symptom relief. If your symptoms of sinusitis last longer than a week or you have a high fever, speak to your doctor right away. If your sinusitis is caused by a bacterial infection, you may be prescribed antibiotics and prescription nasal spray, like Nasacort, Rhinocort, or Flonase. Taking decongestants, saline nasal spray, and over-the-counter pain relief medicine like Advil can help relieve you of your symptoms. Your doctor may also refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. More aggressive treatments for chronic sinusitis include immunotherapy and surgery.

Sinusitis Prevention

 For both chronic and acute sinusitis, there are simple methods of prevention. If you suffer frequently from sinus problems like congestion and sinus pain, get tested for allergies and/or remove allergens from your home. Installing a humidifier and air purifier will help. It is very important to stay away from cigarette smoke and other air pollutants. Some doctors recommend frequent nasal rinsing to clean out your sinuses.

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