Sinus Infection (cont.)
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How Is a Sinus Iinfection (Sinusitis) Diagnosed?
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.
CT scan: In most cases, diagnosing acute sinusitis requires no testing. When testing is indicated, a CT scan will 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 the these conditions is present:
However, mucosal thickening can occur in people without symptoms of sinusitis as well. Therefore, the CT scan findings must be correlated with a person's symptoms and physical examination findings in order to diagnose a sinus infection.
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 by the medical community for diagnosing sinus infections. This is partly because a CT scan offers the physician a more detailed image of the anatomy of the sinuses, which helps plan possible surgery if deemed necessary.
If symptoms persist despite adequate therapy, a referral to an otolaryngologist (ENT) may be necessary.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/31/2016
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