Acute Sinusitis Seattle

Acute sinusitis, also known as sinus infection, is the most common type of sinusitis. It affects around 4% of people worldwide every year. Furthermore, nearly 12% of people will receive a sinusitis diagnosis at some point. Considering that the common cold is the most frequent cause of acute sinusitis, nearly everyone will experience a sinus infection. Often acute sinusitis requires no medical treatment. It may need the care of a specialist if it becomes recurrent, especially severe, or develops into chronic sinusitis. Regardless of your sinus needs, ENT doctor, Dr. David Santos provides the best treatment for acute sinusitis Seattle provides.


Acute sinusitis by itself–unless caused by a bacteria which occurs less than half the time–is not contagious. However, the illnesses that can turn into a sinus infection generally are communicable, such as the common cold. In fact, the human rhinovirus–the virus that usually causes the common cold–accounts for over 50% of virus caused sinusitis.

The way acute sinusitis is differentiated from subacute and chronic types is that acute sinusitis lasts less than four weeks. In truth, 47% of acute sinus infections will clear up on their own without antibiotics within one week. If your symptoms last longer than one month, your doctor may diagnose you with subacute sinusitis.

Acute sinusitis can also occur recurrently without becoming subacute or chronic sinusitis. In these cases, a sinus specialist like Dr. Santos can address what may be causing the sinus infections. He will then work on a treatment strategy.


From a scientific standpoint, there are three main causes of sinusitis: viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Viruses account for the largest number of acute sinus infections, bacteria next, and fungal sinusitis is the rarest form.

Various viruses can cause acute sinusitis including rhinoviruses, influenza viruses, and parainfluenza viruses. Typically, acute viral sinusitis will begin as a cold or other upper respiratory infection. Then, this virus will work its way into the sinus cavities and cause inflammation. This is often either concurrently with the other virus or after other symptoms have cleared. It is also possible for the virus to only infect the sinuses and not cause the cold or flu. 

Acute viral sinusitis usually clears within one to two weeks. Your symptoms will begin to lessen after five to seven days and dissipate after two weeks. If your symptoms last longer, you may have a bacterial infection. 

Acute bacterial sinusitis means that the sinus infection is caused by bacteria. The symptoms of bacterial sinusitis are largely the same as a virus caused infection. The difference occurs when symptoms do not get better within a week and do not clear within two weeks. Usually, antibiotics will clear up a bacterial sinus infection quickly.

Fungal sinusitis rarely causes an acute infection. If it does, the infection will likely clear similar to a viral infection. When a fungus causes sinusitis, it will often become chronic and severe, requiring surgery and antifungal medications. Less severe allergic fungal sinusitis also requires surgery to provide full relief. Invasive fungal infections are rare in the United States and more frequently occur in the Southern U.S.



Many of the signs and symptoms of a sinus infection will appear similar to a cold or the flu. However, some can indicate an acute sinus infection. Symptoms you may experience during acute sinusitis include:

  • Runny nose (may include discolored discharge which may be yellow or green)
  • Congestion
  • Facial pain that may worsen when you bend over
  • Tenderness around the eyes, nose, cheeks, and/or forehead
  • Facial swelling
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Alterations in or dulling of smell and taste
  • Toothache
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Ear pressure or pain
  • Headaches
  • Postnasal drip
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness

Not every acute sinus infection will exhibit all of these symptoms. Additionally, other symptoms are possible, especially if you are prone to sinus infections or have a severe case.


Certain medical conditions, environments, and biological factors can place you at a higher risk of acute sinusitis. These factors will also make you more likely to develop chronic sinusitis or more severe sinus infections. Dr. David Santos, Seattle’s best ENT, can discover and treat these factors to minimize and alleviate your sinusitis symptoms.

Risks factors that may make you more susceptible to sinus infections include:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Deviated septum
  • Nasal polyps
  • Frequent or recurrent upper respiratory infections
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Large or infected adenoids
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Smoking (or secondhand smoke)
  • Flying (and other activities that cause pressure changes)
  • Working in an environment where germs spread quickly (such as a school or daycare)
  • Living in a place with a high amount of pollution


Acute sinusitis often requires no specific treatment. Home remedies can treat the symptoms to make you feel better. Although, if your sinus infection is viral, you will simply have to wait it out. For a viral sinus infection, your doctor may recommend some at-home treatment. This can include nasal irrigation, taking over-the-counter medications, and plenty of water and rest. If your acute sinusitis is caused by bacteria, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and many of the same treatments. 

Home remedies and treatments that can alleviate your sinusitis symptoms include:

  • Using a humidifier
  • Drink a lot of water
  • Nasal sprays (under the direction of a medical professional)
  • Steaming
  • Warm compresses
  • Over-the-counter painkillers and decongestants
  • Rest



Sinus surgery to treat acute sinus infection is usually unnecessary. However, if you have recurrent, especially severe, or fungal sinusitis you may require sinus surgery. For example, if you have a deviated septum and continue to suffer from multiple sinus infections per year, surgery may help. 

Depending on the cause of your sinusitis, Dr. Santos will perform the right procedure to provide you relief. In traditional sinus surgery, Dr. Santos will drain the sinus and widen them to promote the correct function of the sinuses. Other surgeries which may aid in treating sinus problems include septoplasty, medical rhinoplasty, and nasal polyp removal.

During a consultation, Dr. Santos can determine if sinus surgery is the right treatment path for you. He will discuss your symptoms, medical history, and physically examine you. If you are a good candidate for sinus surgery in Seattle, he will discuss the next steps.


Does Acute Sinusitis Need Antibiotics?

Sometimes. If the symptoms of your acute sinus infection do not get better within a week and last longer than ten days, you may have acute bacterial sinusitis. In this case, antibiotics are prescribed to address the infection.

What Are Recurrent Acute Sinus Infections?

Recurrent acute sinusitis is defined as when a patient suffers from four or more acute sinus infections per year. Many factors can influence this and Dr. Santos can likely determine the cause of your recurrent sinus infections. Occasionally, sinus surgery may be required to address recurrent acute sinusitis.

Will A Sinus Infection Go Away On Its Own?

In many cases, yes. A viral infection will not respond to antibiotics and will need to run its course. However, reatments can make the process more comfortable for you and alleviate symptoms. Ultimately, though, viral sinusitis should go away on its own. If your sinus infection does not go away after two weeks, you may need further treatment.

What Is The Difference Between Chronic And Acute Sinusitis?

Acute sinusitis is a sinus infection that completely resolves within four weeks. This can include sinusitis caused by any of the main three causes, or which requires antibiotics. Chronic sinusitis is when sinus symptoms have not resolved within 12 weeks, or three months. Commonly, this indicates a larger problem or cause of sinusitis.

Chronic sinusitis symptoms must last 12 consecutive weeks. If your symptoms resolve and then recur, this may be recurrent acute or subacute sinusitis. Generally, chronic sinusitis symptoms tend to be milder, but last longer. Though, this is not always the case. Dr. Santos will discuss the length, recurrence, and severity of your symptoms during a consultation.

How To Tell If You Have A Sinus Infection?

The telltale signs of a sinus infection that differentiate it from a cold are facial pain and swelling. If you experience pain near the cheekbones, forehead, and around the eyes, this may indicate a sinus infection.

When Should I See An ENT?

Your doctor may refer you to see an ENT. Other times it is appropriate to see an ENT doctor is when sinusitis begins interfering with work and daily life consistently, sinus symptoms that have not resolved for several weeks, symptoms are severe, you have recurrent sinus infections, or have risk factors of chronic sinusitis.

If you feel more comfortable ruling out sinus problems or getting an expert opinion, Dr. Santos is more than happy to discuss your concerns.


Dr. David Santos is an accomplished Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist with board certifications in otolaryngology and facial plastic surgery. This makes him uniquely qualified to perform non-invasive sinus surgery. Dr. Santos has three decades of experience treating sinusitis of all types and performing sinus surgery.

Offering premier surgical and non-surgical treatment of sinus problems, Sinusitis In Seattle is the top destination for the best ENT Seattle offers. To learn more about acute sinusitis and to schedule a consultation, call us at (206) 242-3696 or contact us online.

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