4 Types of Sinusitis and How Each Is Treated

Nov 10, 2023
4 Types of Sinusitis and How Each Is Treated
Sinusitis is a common condition, and it can take many different forms. Find everything you need to know about the types of sinusitis and how they’re treated here.

Sinusitis — or a sinus infection — happens when the tissue that lines your sinus cavity becomes inflamed. This infection is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases in the United States, affecting 16% of the adult population annually.

Your sinuses are hollow cavities that rest between your eyes, behind your cheekbones, and in your forehead. They make mucus to keep your nose moist and keep allergens out. Usually, your sinuses are filled with air, but if they become swollen and inflamed, the fluid in your sinuses becomes stuck and germs can grow. This is how sinusitis can occur.

However, not all forms of sinusitis are created equal. There are many different types of sinus infections based on timeframe, and they can be caused by different things as well. 

Because the kind of sinusitis you have is going to determine what kind of treatment you receive, Chad W. Mayer, DO, FAAAAI, FAAP, and the rest of our team at Allergy and Asthma Institute of Southeast Michigan in Farmington Hills, Michigan, want to review the four types and the treatment plan for each so you know what to expect.

1. Acute sinusitis

This type of sinusitis is typically caused by the common cold or an allergy flare-up and lasts for about 2-4 weeks. You may have symptoms, such as a runny or stuffy nose along with facial pain. 

Because acute sinusitis is usually the result of a virus, antibiotics won’t be effective at treating it. Instead, you need to make sure to get plenty of rest and drink an adequate amount of fluids. You can also use nasal sprays and take over-the-counter pain relievers for symptom relief.

If your acute sinusitis is, in fact, caused by a bacterial infection, your provider will prescribe antibiotics to help it clear up in about a week.

2. Subacute sinusitis

When you have subacute sinusitis, it’s very similar to the acute variation. However, you may notice a steady progression of symptoms for 4-12 weeks. You may also notice that it takes some time for any kind of treatment to kick in.

Because subacute sinusitis lasts for so long, bacterial infections are usually involved. For this reason, you’ll probably need to go on antibiotics to fight off the infection.

3. Chronic sinusitis

Chronic sinusitis lasts 12 weeks or longer, and the symptoms may be less noticeable. You may struggle with nasal congestion and post-nasal drip or even a lingering cough that’s much worse at night and first thing in the morning. These symptoms might last for months on end.

Bacteria and fungus are top causes of chronic sinusitis, and you may be at a higher risk if you have allergies, nasal polyps, or a weakened immune system. Some treatment options include antibiotics, antihistamines, and nasal steroid sprays.

4. Recurrent sinusitis

If you struggle with seasonal allergies or get sick often during cold and flu season, you’re more at risk for recurrent sinusitis. When your sinuses become inflamed so often, acute sinusitis can keep coming back, so recurrent sinusitis is when you have multiple sinus infections in a year.

Treatment for recurrent sinusitis depends largely on whether bacteria are at play or not. If they are, then you’ll need antibiotics to clear it up. Otherwise, you need to manage the symptoms on your own until it goes away.

If you find yourself struggling with sinusitis, come in and see us so we can properly diagnose and treat it. To schedule an appointment, you can give us a call at 248-363-3232 or use our online booking tool today.