Acute sinusitis


This occurs when individuals experience sinus infection symptoms for less than two weeks. Acute sinusitis is also called acute rhinosinusitis as we feel that the nose is also involved when the sinuses are affected with the 'rhino' part referring to the nose.  Sometimes this can happen repeatedly and then it is termed recurrent acute sinusitis.

Acute sinus infection symptoms

Sinusitis symptoms may include nasal blockage, pain ("sinus headaches"), loss of smell or sensing a bad smell and a runny nose. The sinus infection usually comes from the air that we breathe but can also come from tooth infections. Usually this sinus infection is caused by a virus such as that which causes the common cold and resolves by itself. However, sometimes it can progress to a bacterial sinus infection and last longer and occasionally require antibiotics (acute sinusitis). Less commonly, a fungus can be the cause of the sinus infection and cause fungal sinusitis.

Rarely, the sinus infection can spread to the surrounding structures of the eyes, teeth and brain with potentially serious complications. 

Sinus infection treatment

Most episodes of acute sinusitis settle with over the counter medications that your pharmacist can recommend. If symptoms persist or are worsening, then you may have a bacterial sinus infection which may require antibiotics. 

If you experience any difficulties which may include but are not limited to problems with your eyes/vision or persistent or severe headaches, you must seek medical advice immediately. This can be through your family doctor or through attendance at your nearest emergency department.

In cases where medical treatments are unable to resolve complications, sinus surgery such as endoscopic sinus surgery may be required.