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What you think is a cold could be sinusitis

September 21, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Do you feel stuffed up, headachey and tired? It could be a fall cold, but it might be something else altogether. Doctors say it could be sinusitis, which often sets in after you've had a cold.Sarah Brodsky, a successful real estate agent, always seemed a little off.

"I was constantly stuffed up, felt pressure in my face, headaches that would even be back in the back of my head," said Brodsky.

For years, she had suffered from sinus problems. Even after numerous tests and different drugs, she couldn't shake the pain and exhaustion. She finally went to a sinus specialist, who diagnosed her with chronic sinusitis and recommended surgery.

"They opened all my passage ways so that I could breathe easier," said Brodsky.

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses that occurs with a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. With chronic sinusitis, the cavities around the sinuses become inflamed and swollen, which interferes with drainage and causes mucus to build up.

"The CAT scan can be helpful and can show acute sinusitis, but the absence of findings doesn't indicate a person doesn't have it," said Dr. Alexander Chester, an internal medicine physician.

Symptoms for sinusitis include loss of smell, coughing at night, fatigue, headache, nasal congestion, sore throat, postnasal drip, and in some cases a fever. Treatment ranges from pills to surgery.

Even though the symptoms are easy to spot, sinusitis still continues to be misdiagnosed.

"This is an illness that's seen in 14 percent of Americans. Internists are just not getting information," said Dr. Chester.

For Brodsky, the surgery has made all the difference.

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