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A sinus infection is an infection of the air-filled spaces that are located within the bones in and around the nose, called paranasal sinuses. A sinus infection is a common condition that results from a viral infection, bacterial infection, or rarely, a fungal infection.
Certain conditions, behaviors or injuries make it more likely that a sinus infection will develop. These include smoking, hay fever, allergic rhinitis, trauma to the nose, tooth abscess. An infection can also develop after exposing the deep areas of the nose to bacteria, viruses or fungus through such activities as picking the nose.
A sinus infection, also called sinusitis, occurs when the body's immune system is unable to stop harmful bacteria, viruses or fungi from reproducing within the sinuses. A sinus infection results in swelling of the mucus membranes that line the sinuses and pain and pressure in and around the eyes and cheekbones. A thick, green nasal mucus can also develop.
Severe complications from a sinus infection that affect the brain may also occur. For more details on symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of sinus infection.
Making a diagnosis of a sinus infection begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and a physical examination that focuses on the nose and sinuses. Findings include swelling and inflammation of the sinuses and thick greenish nasal mucus. Diagnostic testing may include imaging tests, such as an X-ray or CT, which can confirm a diagnosis and reveal the severity of the condition. Imaging tests may also help to uncover underlying conditions, such as a tooth abscess.
It is possible that a diagnosis of a sinus infection can be missed or delayed because the symptoms can be mild or assumed to be associated with other conditions, such as migraine headache or upper respiratory infection. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of sinus infection.
Treatment for a sinus infection varies depending on the cause, severity of symptoms, the presence of complications and a person's medical history. Prompt treatment is important to prevent the development of serious complications, such as meningitis and brain abscess. Treatment may include using a humidifier, medications or possibly surgery. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of sinus infection....more »
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