Acute rhinosinusitis is typically caused by a virus and lasts 7 to 14 days. In many patients, acute rhinosinusitis recurs one to two times per year. Antiviral medication is not needed to fight these viral infections, as the body is able to fight them on its own. Over-the-counter cold medications can help with symptoms. Sometimes nasal steroid sprays are recommended to help decrease the length of a cold or viral sinus infection. Saline sprays and saline irrigations help by keeping the nasal cavity moist and encouraging mucus clearance.
More rarely, these viral infections can create an environment that allows bacteria to grow, sometimes resulting in a bacterial sinus infection. If symptoms of discolored nasal drainage persist for 10 to 14 days, an antibiotic may be prescribed to treat the bacterial infection.
If you experience any unusual symptoms such as eye swelling or severe fever with rhinosinusitis, please seek medical attention.
Chronic Rhinosinusitis (CRS)
Rhinosinusitis becomes chronic when symptoms persist throughout and beyond a three-month period. Chronic rhinosinusitis is not usually caused by an infection; rather, it is thought to be more of an inflammatory condition, similar to asthma or allergies.
Diagnoses are based on the patient’s symptoms and findings from an endoscopic exam. Sometimes a sinus CT scan is ordered. Because there are a variety of conditions that can cause the same symptoms as chronic rhinosinusitis, we follow a strict clinical practice guideline to reach a diagnosis.
While there is no cure for chronic rhinosinusitis, there are treatments available to alleviate your symptoms. Initial treatments include medications such as topical nasal steroid sprays, allergy treatments, and nasal saline irrigations to help reduce swelling and allow proper drainage.
When medical therapies are not enough, surgery is sometimes recommended to help with drainage, the exchange of air in your sinuses, and the delivery of medications to decrease inflammation. The goal of sinus surgery for chronic rhinosinusitis is to make the openings of the sinuses larger. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and patients are usually able to go home that day.
Nasal Polyps from CRS
Some patients will develop nasal polyps in the setting of chronic rhinosinusitis. These polyps are not cancerous, but are an indication of serious inflammation. Learn more »