COMPLICATIONS OF RHINITIS: DISORDERS THAT MASQUERADE AS SINUSITIS

Not everything that looks and feels like sinusitis will be sinusitis. You should be aware of the common conditions that might seem to be sinusitis, but that are not:

Angioedema (allergic swelling)
This is a localized swelling of the skin and tissues under the skin due to an allergic reaction to something. If it occurs on the face, around the nose or eyes, it could be mistaken for sinusitis.

Temporal Arteritis
This is an inflammation of a major artery running across the temple. It usually involves only one side and is usually painful to the touch.

Cellulitis
This is an infection of the skin and the tissues under the skin. The skin is usually red, warm to the touch, and painful. If this occurs over the cheeks, at the base of the nose, or around the eyes, it could be mistaken for sinusitis.

Headache
Since there is facial pain with acute sinusitis, it is possible that some mild forms of headache, and even migraine, could be mistaken for sinusitis. Most of the time this is not a hard differentiation to make.

Neuralgia of the Trigeminal Nerve
This is a condition in which intense pain shoots across the face along the path commonly followed by the trigeminal nerve. Trigeminal refers to the fact that this nerve branches and follows three courses across the face. The pain felt with this is intense, like that caused by placing ice on a cavity of a tooth. This is very different from the usual sinus pain, which is dull and pressure like.

Toothache
Your upper teeth are very close anatomically to the maxillary sinus cavities. In fact, they can actually push up against the sinuses. Should one of these teeth become infected, that infection can irritate the lining of the sinuses and can cause discomfort similar to sinusitis. This is usually easy to tell as tapping of the teeth, chewing, or ingesting hot beverages do not usually bother sinusitis, but will aggravate an inflamed tooth.

Tumors
Many tumors of the nose cavity do not produce symptoms until they have grown enough to invade the surrounding tissue. At this point, it is common for them to produce pain. Since that pain is usually noted around the nose, the first impression is that one has sinusitis. However, the other more typical symptoms of sinusitis are usually absent.
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