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Sinusitis (Diagnosis)

What are the methods to diagnose sinusitis?

Doctor can usually identify sinusitis on the basis of the signs and symptoms. However,he might ask you to undergo a few tests- to confirm the diagnosis, know its extent and plana treatment.

When you visit the doctor, you may expect to undergo the following things.


Medical History

You should be prepared to answer a few questions, to rule out any possible conditions and to narrow down the cause of sinusitis.

One can be asked about the medications being consumed, any record of past illnesses or any symptoms related to the condition.

Doctors look out for some of the major signs that may point towards sinusitis, which include:

• Facial pain or pressure

• Facial congestion or fullness

• Nasal obstruction

• Hyposmia or reduced sense of smell

• Fever

They may also look for other minor signs of sinusitis like headache, halitosis, fatigue, dental pain, cough or ear pain. Only when accompanied with any major symptom, they are considered a significant sign of sinusitis.


Visual Examination

One can also expect visual examination of the sinuses, to find any sort of mucus discharge or blockage, like polyps. Test by shining a light against sinus, also known as trans-illumination, may be performed.

The cheeks and the forehead can also be examined for tenderness, swelling and the feeling of pressure, by pressing against them with the fingers.


Imaging tests

If any symptoms of sinuses are found, one can be suggested to perform imaging tests.

• CT scan: uses an X-ray and computer to provide detailed images and can help diagnose chronic sinusitis.


• MRI: can form detailed images of the required parts using strong magnetic waves and can help diagnose a tumour or fungal infection.

• X-ray: Although it might be suggested, more accurate results can be obtained with a CT scan.



Also called as nasal endoscopy, it is performed by a fibre optic scope with a light which can provide much more detailed and closer image of the sinuses.

Apart from these tests, adults and children suffering from recurrent sinusitis, can also undergo other tests to evaluate the cause.

• Allergy tests: can be prescribed if the cause of the inflammation is believed to be due to an allergic reaction.

• Sinus culture: samples maybe collected if the treatment is not efficient enough to determine the cause of a sinus infection.

• Blood samples: can be collected to check for any immune system related diseases like HIV.

• Sweat tests: for checking cystic fibrosis may also be conducted as patients with this condition have higher level of chloride in their sweat.


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