What's the Difference Between Acute and Chronic Sinusitis?

ear nose and throat surgeonEvery so often we're all prone to a stuffy nose and congestion. Sinusitis is very common, but that doesn't mean that it's never serious. While some cases can be easily treated with over the counter medicines, more severe or recurring cases can require more intensive treatments, and perhaps a consultation with an ear nose and throat surgeon.

But how can you tell when your case of the sniffles is something to really worry about? Check this guide to find out whether you need to rest up or if you should see an ear nose and throat specialist.

Acute Sinusitis

  • Lasts up to four weeks
  • Many cases can be caused by uncontrolled allergies. If this is the case, sinusitis can typically be fought off with allergy medication.
  • Pain and discomfort caused by acute sinusitis can usually be dulled with the help of over the counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, they should not be taken for longer than 10 consecutive days. If the problem persists, you may want to consider seeing an ENT doctor.

Chronic Sinusitis

    • Can last longer than four weeks.


    • May be recurring, often mimicking acute symptoms, but worsening as time goes on.


    • Cannot be treated effectively with over the counter medicines.


    • May not react well to prescription antibiotics or steroids.


  • Prolonged inflammation causes sinus swelling and blocks drainage.

About 29.4 million adults have been diagnosed with sinusitis, but even more have waited out the condition without treatment, often allowing it to fester and worsen.

If you have found yourself with thick, discolored mucus, congestion, or facial pain due to pressure in the sinus region, then you may have a case of sinusitis. A doctor may prescribe treatment for acute sinusitis at first, but if the problem persists, you may want to consult with an ear nose and throat surgeon.

While sinus surgery will come with some post-operative discomfort, the short recovery time that you will endure is much preferred to the prolonged pain caused by chronic sinusitis. Head and Neck Specialties knows the severity of pain that you are experiencing and will craft a treatment plan that will be best suited for your needs.

Whether you need to see an ear nose and throat surgeon or undergo an even simpler balloon procedure, our specialists will be able to treat you with the utmost care in mind.