Sinusitis vs Rhinitis

Posted in Rhinitis, Sinusitis

Sinusitis vs. rhinitis. Many people link and compare these two diseases as they have very similar symptoms. What exactly is the connection between them? What differences distinguish them from each other? To understand it better, let us take a deeper look at the definitions first. As we may have heard before, sinusitis occurs in the sinuses (that’s why they call it sinusitis). Sinusitis itself refers to the inflammation of the sinuses, the cavities around the nose that linked directly to the nose through some tiny ducts (commonly known as the nasal passages). These ducts are very, very small, thus making them very prone to get blocked by even small air-borne particles. When these passages get blocked, mucus will be accumulated in the sinuses and cause infections, this is what we call sinusitis. Rhinitis, on the other hand, is the inflammation occurs in the nasal passages that connect the sinuses with the nose. Rhinitis can cause swelling in the nasal ducts, blocking the drainage system from sinuses which will eventually end up in sinus infection. Experts named this condition ‘rhinosinusitis’, a complication of rhinitis which leads to sinusitis. So, it is obvious that rhinitis could develop sinusitis if it’s not properly treated. This is why rhinitis is usually followed by sinusitis.

Both rhinitis and sinusitis have very similar symptoms. People who suffer from rhinitis might feel stuffy-nose, and inconvenience around the nose area. There is also some mucus dripping from the post nasal area at the back of the throat. Rhinitis also raises flu-like symptoms such as cold. Similar to rhinitis, sinusitis also brings up all these symptoms. Although, sinusitis may have additional symptoms like pain in the face area near the nose, severe cough, and in most cases where the sinusitis is caused by microbial infection, the sufferer may also get fever.

Another factor that differentiates rhinitis and sinusitis is the main factor that triggers them. Bacterial infection is the most common cause of sinusitis. Allergens and environmental factors can also result in sinusitis, although in most cases, microbes still play the biggest role in developing sinusitis. Even if the cause is not microbial factor, sinusitis usually ended up in microbial infection (because the clogged sinuses are excellent place for microbes to grow). This means that sinusitis is very closely-related to microbial infection. In reversal, rhinitis is mainly caused by allergens and environmental factors. Only few cases of rhinitis are caused by viral infection. Generally, rhinitis is divided into two types. The first type is ‘allergic-rhinitis’. Some people are allergy to certain types of allergens such as animal fur, histamine (usually presents in food), and pollens. The other type is ‘non-allergic-rhinitis’.  This type of rhinitis is usually caused by environmental factors like chemicals or smoke. Both of these types occur without intervention of microbes.

To treat a disease, the factor that caused it must be taken into serious attention. The factors are important as they can be the key to determine what type of medication should be taken. As mentioned above, rhinitis is mainly caused by allergens and environmental irritants. Rhinitis is usually treated by anti-allergen medicines. If the sufferer has allergy-history to histamine, pseudo-ephedrine containing medicines are often used. There are many other substances that can cause rhinitis. Each can only be treated with specific cures. This makes the cures for rhinitis widely varied. Meanwhile, sinusitis is highly correlated to bacterial infection. This is why the doctors usually treat patients with sinusitis by giving them antibiotics. Rhinitis patients can also be given antibiotics but this usually happens if the rhinitis has developed into rhinosinusitis.

In conclusion, rhinitis and sinusitis are indeed different. But since they both are highly correlated, I prefer to use the term ‘rhinitis and sinusitis’ rather than ‘rhinitis versus sinusitis’.

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