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Acute Recurrent Sinusitis: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Acute Recurrent Sinusitis can have a notable impact the patient’s quality of life, as it may completely disrupt their sleep pattern, work life, and social wellness. Acute Recurrent Sinusitis may be just a more mild form of chronic sinusitis but it is defined slightly differently. Some cases of Acute Recurrent Sinusitis if not managed appropriately can result in chronic sinusitis which is a much more challenging disease to treat. Though over-the-counter or prescription drugs may provide a short-lived respite, they usually fail to make much of a difference in cases of chronic sinusitis. To address the issue for good, patients need to find out the underlying causes of the problem, be aware the symptoms, and consult a sinusitis expert who can prescribe the right treatment and help them get permanent relief. Shedding more light on the subject, in this post we look at the symptoms, causes and treatment of recurrent acute sinusitis.


  • Four episodes of sinusitis per year each lasting for at least 3-4 weeks causing facial pain, sinus pressure, and headache
  • Need for decongestant and antibiotic treatment for four or more times in one year
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste
  • Discolored nasal drainage

Causes of Acute Recurrent Sinusitis

Deviated Septum

A deviated or crooked septum obstructs or blocks sinus openings, causing recurrent acute sinusitis. The deviated septum can be congenital or a result of an injury or facial trauma.

Anatomically Narrowed Sinus Openings

Patients with naturally small sinus openings are susceptible to sinus drainage problems and recurrent acute sinusitis.

Allergic Rhinitis

When the immune system of the body overreacts to an allergen, it triggers allergic rhinitis. The problem may cause inflammation and congestion in the nasal passages which blocks the natural sinus openings and leading the mucous stasis in the sinuses and ultimately causing a bacterial sinusitis.

Treatment of Recurrent Acute Sinusitis

Doctors usually start with an aggressive medical treatment to control the problem and move to mild ones over the time. The course of treatment includes:

Lifestyle Changes

Patients with environmental allergies should avoid getting in contact with the allergens to avoid allergic rhinitis. Patients need to quit smoking, as it contributes to recurrent sinusitis.

Nasal Saline Wash

Washing nasal passages with large volume salt water (240mL) reduces symptoms. In addition to this, patients need to wash their nose before applying medicine to clear the mucus.

Nasal Steroid Sprays

Recurrent sinusitis has some degree of inflammation, and the patient needs medication to reduce the irritation and swelling. The nasal steroids will reduce the impact of allergic rhinitis in triggering recurrent acute sinusitis.


Oral antibiotics are often used to treat the episodes of recurrent acute sinusitis. Treatment can be anywhere from 7 to 21 days on broad spectrum oral antibiotics depending on the severity of the infection and patient response to the treatment. Many different antibiotics are available and treatment decisions should be based on a culture of the infected mucous. It is critical to see a sinus specialist who can look into the nasal cavity and sinus openings in the office with a nasal endoscope and obtain a culture. The culture is then tested to see what specific bacteria are growing and to which antibiotics this bacteria is sensitive. Without this culture directed treatment, the antibiotic choice is often a random choice with limited effectiveness. It is critical to see a sinus specialist when you have a recurrent acute sinusitis because they provide the best chances of stopping the infection before a surgical intervention is necessary.

Surgical Interventions

A surgical procedure is the last resort, if all other medical treatments fail to solve the problem. A balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive in-office dilation of the affected sinuses performed in order to relieve the obstruction causing the recurrent acute sinusitis, and to irrigate any infection out of the diseased sinus. Cultures of the infected mucous should be taken during the procedure to identify what specific type of bacteria is causing the infection. In some cases, even after a balloon sinus dilation, a patient will need a short course of culture directed antibiotics specific to the bacteria found in the infected sinus to completely resolve the sinusitis. If the infected sinus is severely diseased a more aggressive surgical procedure to open the sinus may be necessary under general anesthesia (functional endoscopic sinus surgery or FESS). In cases where a deviated septum is present and appears to be contributing to the recurrent acute sinusitis it should be straightened in addition to opening any infected sinuses. These procedures can alleviate the frequency and duration of recurrent acute sinusitis episodes and in some cases, may completely eliminate sinus exacerbations.

Last Few Words

After balloon sinus dilation or sinus surgery, the patient needs to avoid exposure to allergens and may also should use large volume nasal saline irrigations like Neil-Med Sinus Rinse. If you or someone you know has been experiencing sinus problems frequently and over-the-counter medicines or repeated oral antibiotics fail to provide relief, it could be a sign of acute recurrent sinusitis and you must not delay seeking expert help. Get in touch with Dr. Kuperan with Houston Advanced Nose and Sinus for a complete checkup and consultation. To schedule an appointment with one of our sinus specialists, call us at (713) 791-0700 or click here.

We’re here to help

If you are frustrated by frequent sinus infections, persistent nasal congestion, or other sinus symptoms, Dr. Arjuna Kuperan and the team at Houston Advanced Nose & Sinus can help. Contact us today with any questions or to schedule your consultation.

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