What's the Difference Between Acute Sinusitis and Chronic Sinusitis?

What’s the Difference Between Acute Sinusitis and Chronic Sinusitis?

sinus headache

When does Sinusitis become Acute?

Sinusitis is a pain…but it’s also expensive. Each year in the U.S., it costs us about $5.7 billion. Knowing what types of sinus infections there are can be the first step in finding accurate treatment. Here are the two main types:

  • Acute sinusitis. Think of acute sinusitis as the situational kind. It lasts up to four weeks, but not longer. Typically, it stems from a common cold that lingers, allergies that flare up and won’t go away, or certain physical health factors that make people more prone to sinus trouble.
  • Chronic sinusitis. This kind is more stubborn. Chronic sinusitis lasts at least 12 weeks. Asthma and ongoing allergies can be to blame, along with certain pre-existing conditions that make nasal passages regularly inflamed.

Both types of sinus infections have similar symptoms, such as:

  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Facial pressure or pain
  • Nasal discharge
  • Stuffy nose
  • Dizziness when moving around or bending down
  • Headache
  • Bad breath

coughing manWith either type of infection, you’ll want to talk with a sinus doctor to help customize your treatment and pinpoint any possible underlying conditions, such as undiagnosed allergies.

For acute sinusitis, doctors will often recommend some combination of the following:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Expectorants, to reduce mucus buildup
  • Nasal steroids
  • Antibiotics

Day-to-day treatment for chronic sinusitis is the same, but the longer-term treatment plan is different. Why? With chronic sinusitis, there may be ongoing health factors (such as a structural abnormality in the nose) that contribute to the continued sinus infections. Allergy treatments, lifestyle changes and, in some cases, sinus surgery may be considered.

If sinusitis is bringing you down, give us a call. Our NYC sinus doctors will help you get to the root of your sinus infections and find a treatment plan that’s right for you.


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The Staff and Doctors of The New York Otolaryngology Group