Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"What is the difference between sinusitis and a sinus infection?"
IS there a difference? I have a sinus infection but is it sinusitis?
Sinusitis is an infection involving the paranasal sinuses. The suffix '-itis' one we usually use to mean infection or inflammation of a particular area. If you have a sinus infection, you should speak with your primary physician to discuss the need for antibiotics. We have many sinuses including the maxillary sinuses which are the sinuses in your cheeks; the ethmoid sinuses which are the sinuses by your eyes; the sphenoid sinuses which are in the back of your nose and close to your brain; and the frontal sinuses which are the sinuses that are in your forehead. Patients that have sinusitis experience facial pressure, green/yellow discharge from the nose, fever, fatigue and congestion. It is usually diagnosed by symptoms and physical exam. Sometimes a telescope can be used to examine the sinuses and can be used to help take a culture so you know exactly what bacteria has caused the infection and antibiotics can be tailored appropriately. If you think you have a sinus infection you should see your primary physician. You should be seen so that you can be started on antibiotics so that a complication from the sinus infection does not occur. If you continue to have problems with recurrent sinus infections you may require sinus surgery.
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