Sinus Infection (cont.)
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Sinus Infection Diagnosis
The diagnosis of a sinus infection is made based on a medical history assessment and a physical examination. Adequately distinguishing sinusitis from a simple upper respiratory infection or a common cold is important.
Sinusitis caused by bacteria usually requires antibiotics for treatment. Sinusitis can also be caused by viruses (meaning antibiotics would not help). Upper respiratory infections and colds are viral illnesses. Over-treating viral infections with antibiotics can be dangerous and can cause antibiotic resistance to occur.
CT scan: In most cases, diagnosing acute sinusitis requires no tests. When testing is needed a CT scan can clearly depict all of the paranasal sinuses, the nasal passages, and the surrounding structures. A CT scan may indicate a sinus infection if any of these conditions is present:
Ultrasound: Another noninvasive diagnostic tool is ultrasound. The procedure is fast, reliable, and less expensive than a CT scan although the results are not as detailed. Ultrasound has not been widely accepted for diagnosis of sinus infection by the medical community, especially among ear, nose, and throat physicians (ENTs, also known as otorhinolaryngologists). This is partly because a CT scan offers the ENT physician a more detailed image of the anatomy of the sinuses, which helps plan possible surgery.
If symptoms persist despite adequate therapy, a referral to an ENT physician may be made.
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