People with allergies, asthma, and nasal polyps are more likely to develop sinusitis. Many people with asthma also have chronic sinusitis. People with deficient immune systems, such as those with HIV, are more likely to have sinus problems. Also, people with cystic fibrosis or other problems with the movement of mucus are likely to have sinusitis. Living in an area with large amounts of pollen or pollution in the air can also increase the risk in sensitive people.
The diagnosis of acute sinus problems can be challenging as it is not always clear if infection (bacterial) is present or if the common cold (viral) is to blame.
A healthcare provider diagnoses sinusitis after obtaining a complete medical history and performing a physical examination. The proper diagnosis is based on the patient's symptom history and careful inspection of the nasal tissues. Nasal endoscopy, looking into the nose with a special camera and telescope, may be performed to help confirm the diagnosis. A CT scan of the sinuses is typically not required for acute sinusitis but may be very important in the treatment of patients with chronic sinusitis.