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Acute bacterial rhinosinusitis (ABRS) is an infection of both your nasal cavity and sinuses. It is caused by bacteria. The nasal cavity is the large air-filled space behind your nose. The sinuses are a group of spaces formed by the bones of your face. They connect with your nasal cavity. ABRS causes the tissue lining these spaces to become inflamed. Mucus may not drain normally. This leads to facial pain and other common symptoms.
It’s more common for rhinosinusitis to be caused by a virus. But ABRS is caused by bacteria. An acute infection means that you’ve had symptoms for less than 4 weeks.
ABRS isn’t as common as acute viral rhinosinusitis. Women get it more often than men. Middle-aged and older adults also get it more often.
ABRS is caused by bacteria that infect the lining of your nasal cavity and sinuses. It’s most often caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumonia. Or it may be caused by the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae. This can happen when the lining is already inflamed. This is often caused by a virus. The bacterial infection comes later. It usually starts in the nasal cavity and spreads into your sinuses.
Other factors can cause inflammation and make a bacterial infection more likely, such as:
The symptoms of ABRS can look like other health conditions. Symptoms may be different for each person. The symptoms may include:
Most people don’t have all of these symptoms. With an acute infection, these symptoms have lasted less than 4 weeks.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your medical history. He or she will ask about your symptoms and how long you’ve had them. You may have a physical exam. This is to look for signs of a respiratory infection.
It’s hard to tell the difference between viral and bacterial rhinosinusitis. Both of these conditions have similar symptoms. You may be more likely to have ABRS if you’ve had:
In most cases, your provider will not need to do additional tests. They are usually not necessary, unless you have signs of complications. You might also need testing if you’ve had several episodes of ABRS. These tests might include:
Your healthcare provider will decide how to treat your ABRS, based on:
Treatments for ABRS can include:
Researchers don’t know if some of these treatments work for ABRS.
Your healthcare provider may not give you antibiotics at first. Since it is hard to tell if you have a bacterial infection, other treatments may be recommended. Antibiotics don’t help rhinosinusitis that is caused by a virus. Healthcare providers don’t like to give antibiotics if they’re not needed. Many people get better without antibiotics.
If your symptoms don’t get better in several days, you might need antibiotics. If your healthcare provider finds that you have a bacterial infection at your first visit, you might get antibiotics right away.
In rare cases, ABRS may cause complications such as:
Your healthcare provider will keep track of your symptoms to make sure you don’t have these complications. If you do, you might need antibiotics given through an intravenous line. Very rarely, you might need surgery as well.
Call your healthcare provider if your symptoms do not get better after several days of treatment. Also, call right away if you have any symptoms of possible complications, like:
ABRS happens when bacteria infect the lining of the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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