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What is subacute sinusitis?

Subacute sinusitis is a complication of acute sinusitis that has extended for a long period of time but is still undergoing medical treatment. Its clinical presentation lies somewhere in between acute and chronic sinusitis, depending on how long the infection has been present. However, it is different from recurrent sinusitis as RARS occurs episodically, with no symptoms in between each episode of sinusitis. It is generally managed medically, but in some cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.

Types of disease

Causes

  • Common cold
  • Bacterial nasal/sinus infections
  • Fungal infection of the sinuses
  • Allergies

Symptoms

  • Thick mucus drainage from the nose and down the throat (runny nose and postnasal drainage)
  • Nasal congestion
  • Pain and inflammation around the eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead
  • Ear pressure
  • Coughing/sneezing
  • Altered sense of smell
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Teeth pain

Diagnosis

Since subacute infections can lead to severe complications, they should be properly diagnosed and treated. Physical examination for subacute sinusitis starts with the patient’s medical history and illness history. Then, they will examine the patient to examine the severity of the symptoms. 

Risks & Complications

  • Allergies with nasal effects, like hay fever, dust mites, pollen, etc.
  • Persistent bacteria, fungal or viral infections of the sinuses
  • Anatomical abnormalities affecting the flow of air in the nasal and paranasal passages
  • Diseases affecting the immune system, like  cystic fibrosis, HIV/AIDS
  • Jobs like cleaners, metal workers, etc. that lead to chronic exposure to smoke
  • Smoking 

  • Prevention

    To prevent subacute sinusitis, the patient should get proper attention for their sinus infection. Most people ignore their sinus issues in the beginning stages, which causes them to get worse progressively. Therefore, the patient should manage their acute sinus infections as properly as possible. Some other preventive measures they can follow include:

    • Wear a mask and carry a sanitizer with you to maintain proper oral hygiene.
    • If you live in dry or arid regions, use a humidifier to add moisture to the air. Also, make sure your humidifier is clean and mold-free.
    • Eat a balanced diet and hydrate well. You can add water, Gatorade, electrolytes, etc., to your diet.

    If your sinus infection keeps getting worse, you should seek proper treatment to avoid chronic sinusitis and its complications.

Should one consult a doctor for subacute sinusitis?

Subacute sinusitis is a severe form of acute sinusitis, and you should consult an ENT specialist for treatment to avoid severe complications of the condition like:

  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Loss of smell sensation
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Larynx infection
  • Spread of the infection to skull bones, eyes, etc.

Treatment Overview

Generally, most patients and ENT specialists prefer medical management for the treatment of subacute sinusitis. However, if the patient’s symptoms are too severe or if they are not improving at all, even with maximum medical management, surgical intervention may be necessary for sinus drainage and sinusitis recovery.