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Counties Manukau Health ENT - Otorhinolaryngology (ORL)

Public Service, ENT/ Head & Neck Surgery


In the facial bones surrounding your nose, there are four pairs of hollow air spaces known as sinuses or sinus cavities. These sinuses all open into your nose, allowing air to move into and out of the sinus and mucous to drain into the nose and the back of your throat. If the passage between the nose and sinus becomes swollen and blocked, then air and mucous can become trapped in the sinus cavity causing inflammation of the sinus membranes or linings.  This is known as sinusitis.
Sinusitis can be:
  •   acute -  usually a bacterial (or sometimes viral) infection in the sinuses that follows a cold, or an allergic reaction.
  •   chronic - a long term condition that lasts for more than 3 weeks and may or may not be caused by an infection.
Sinusitis can be a recurrent condition which means it may occur every time you get a cold.
Symptoms of sinusitis include:
  •     facial pain or pressure
  •     nasal congestion (blocking)
  •     nasal discharge
  •     headaches
  •     fever.
Treatment for bacterial sinusitis is antibiotics and for non-infective sinusitis may include steroid nasal sprays and nasal washes.
If this treatment is unsuccessful, surgery may be considered. This is usually performed endoscopically; a tiny camera attached to a tube (endoscope) is inserted into your nose. Very small instruments can be passed through the endoscope and used to remove abnormal or obstructive tissue thus restoring movement of air and mucous between the nose and the sinus.

This page was last updated at 2:26PM on May 17, 2022.