Pansinusitis is when all of the sinuses in your head become infected or inflamed. Usually, a sinus infection, or sinusitis, affects only one or two sinus groups. It may feel like a severe sinus infection but often clears up over time without treatment. However, some cases benefit from medical treatment, such as antibiotics or antifungal medications.
The sinuses are hollow cavities that are located behind the cheeks, forehead, and around the nose. They contain mucus that helps trap germs and debris.
Germs are swept down the throat by cilia, which are tiny hairs in the sinuses. This continuously drains mucus and from the nose and surrounding areas.
When a person is ill, the mucus in the sinuses build up, which causes nasal congestion, headache, runny nose, and stuffiness.
If the congestion continues over a few days, the sinuses get inflamed. This becomes sinusitis. Severe sinusitis which affects all of the sinuses is called pansinusitis.
Pansinusitis: Common Symptoms
These are the most common symptoms:
- pressure, tenderness, and pain in the front of the face
- severe nasal congestion
- sore throat from postnasal drip
- thick nasal discharge
- facial pain that radiates into the teeth
- headache in the front of the head
- bad breath
Pansinusitis: Acute Vs. Chronic
All cases of pansinusitis have inflamed sinuses in common. But depending on their cause and how long they last, they may be classified in different ways:
- Acute pansinusitis: Symptoms last less than 12 weeks.
- Chronic pansinusitis: Symptoms last longer than 12 weeks.
These infections may also fall into one of the following categories:
- Viral, such as from a cold or flu virus.
- Bacterial, when a bacterial infection causes it.
- Fungal, when symptoms occur due to fungi or mold.
- Allergic, when allergies cause it.
Pansinusitis can also occur because of a physical blockage in the nose or sinuses. An obstruction may make it harder for the sinuses to drain.
Common types of nasal blockages include:
- a deviated septum
- nasal polyps
- narrowed nasal passages
Treatment for pansinusitis varies, depending on the underlying cause.
Viral pansinusitis often clears up in 2 weeks or less. Some over-the-counter (OTC) remedies may provide relief from bothersome symptoms.
People can try using pain relievers, decongestants, and saline nasal sprays. Gargling with salt water and baking soda can help relieve an irritated throat from postnasal drip.
A doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial sinus infections if they do not clear up on their own. However, if a person takes antibiotics too frequently, they no longer work against some types of bacteria. This can make infections more dangerous and harder to treat.
To help prevent this, antibiotics should only be used for pansinusitis when a doctor believes bacteria cause the infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) also states that antibiotics do not work against most minor sinus infections. They do not work in cases of viruses, fungi or allergies.
Pansinusitis is usually more severe than a minor sinus infection, however. If a sinus infection does not clear up after 2 weeks, a doctor may look more deeply into the cause.
Green nasal discharge is not always an indicator of a sinus infection. A viral infection, such as a cold, can also cause the mucus in the nose to turn green. Significant sinus infections are more likely to have thick nasal discharge with a bad taste in the mouth.
A person with fungal pansinusitis may need to take antifungal medicines if the symptoms do not clear up over time. Fungal sinus infections are more likely to occur in tropical areas and in people with nasal polyps.
More serious fungal infections are most common in those with poorly functioning immune systems. These conditions can include cancer and diabetes.
A person may need allergy tests if they have an undiagnosed allergy that causes pansinusitis. Otherwise, antihistamines and other OTC options can help reduce symptoms.
For people with seasonal allergies, many weather programs indicate high pollen times and help avoid the allergens.
Allergy shots are given to individuals with persistent chronic sinusitis.
In some cases, surgery may be needed to remove a blockage in the nose. A doctor can remove nasal polyps this way.
A deviated septum or narrow nasal passages can also be corrected. This is only done for chronic and recurring sinus infections.