A Sinus problem, infection or sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses and nasal passages. A sinus infection can cause a headache or pressure in the eyes, nose, cheek area, or on one side of the head. A person with a sinus problem may also have a cough, a fever, bad breath, and nasal congestion with thick nasal secretions. Sinusitis is categorized as acute or chronic.

Consult a doctor when experiencing pain or pressure in the upper face accompanied by nasal congestion or discharge, postnasal drip, or ongoing bad breath unrelated to dental problems. Fever can be a symptom of a sinus problem or a cold. Simple congestion with a low-grade fever probably indicates a cold and may not call for medications or antibiotics. Those also experiencing facial pain or headaches may have a sinus infection. A doctor often can treat simple sinusitis. If left undiagnosed and untreated, complications of sinusitis can occur that may lead to severe medical problems and possibly death.

Diagnosis of a Sinus Problem
The diagnosis of a sinus problem is usually made based on a medical history assessment and a physical examination. Adequately distinguishing sinusitis from a simple upper respiratory infection or a common cold is important. Sinusitis is often caused by bacteria and requires antibiotics for treatment. A sinus problem can also be caused by viruses, which means antibiotics would not help. Upper respiratory infections and colds are viral illnesses. Proper diagnosis of these potentially similar conditions prevents confusion as to which medications should be given. Over treating viral infections with antibiotics can be dangerous.

Treatment of a Sinus Problem
The main goals in treating a sinus problem or infection involves reducing the swelling or inflammation in the nasal passages and sinuses, eliminating the infection, promoting drainage from the sinuses, and maintaining open sinuses. Home care can help open the sinuses and alleviate their dryness. If environmental allergies cause the sinusitis, an antihistamine may help reduce swelling of the mucous membranes. Decongestants help reduce airway obstruction and are important in the initial treatment to alleviate symptoms. To treat acute sinusitis, one or more over the counter or prescription therapies may be all that is necessary. In most cases, a sinus problem is caused by bacterial infection. The chief goal of treatment in this case is wiping out bacteria from the sinus cavities with antibiotics. This helps to prevent complications, relieve symptoms, and reduce the risk of chronic sinusitis. For those with recurrent bouts of acute sinusitis or chronic sinusitis, the addition of an intranasal steroid may reduce symptoms of a sinus problem. People whose symptoms do not go away despite the use of antibiotics should follow up with their doctors or ear, nose, and throat specialist. Some people experience chronic sinusitis despite adequate therapy with antibiotics and drugs for relief of symptoms.

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