Difference Between Rhinitis and Sinusitis

Key Difference – Rhinitis vs Sinusitis
 

The key difference between Rhinitis and Sinusitis is that Rhinitis is irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose while Sinusitis is the inflammation of the sinuses, which are the air filled bony cavities located inside the facial bones.

What is Rhinitis?

Rhinitis is irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose. The inflammation of the mucous membrane can be caused by viruses, bacteria, irritants or allergens. Allergic rhinitis is the most common kind of rhinitis; this is usually triggered by airborne allergens such as pollen and dander. The generation of large amounts of mucus, post-nasal drip, a runny nose and/or stuffy nose are the most common symptoms. The inflammation caused by the degranulation of mast cells in the nose is known as allergic rhinitis. When mast cells degranulate, histamine and other chemicals are released, starting an inflammatory process. In the case of infectious rhinitis, it is caused by infective agents and sneezing helps to expel bacteria and viruses from the respiratory system in these cases.

Rhinitis vs Sinusitis Key Difference

Allergic Rhinitis

What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is the inflammation of the sinuses, which are the air filled bony cavities located inside the facial bones. Thick nasal mucous, a plugged nose, and pain in the face are the symptoms of Sinusitis or inflammation of the sinuses. A person suffering from sinusitis may also suffer from fever, headaches, poor smell, sore throat, and cough. Cough is often worse at night. Most cases of sinusitis are due to a viral infection. However, a bacterial infection causes more severe symptoms and longer duration of the illness.

Sinusitis Classification

Acute sinusitis – A new infection that may last up to four weeks

Recurrent acute sinusitis – Four or more separate episodes of acute sinusitis that occur within one year

Subacute sinusitis – An infection that lasts between four and 12 weeks, and represents a transition between acute and chronic infection

Chronic sinusitis – When the signs and symptoms last for more than 12 weeks.

Acute exacerbation of chronic sinusitis – When the signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis exacerbate but return to baseline after treatment

Sinusitis Classification by location

Maxillary –  causes pain or pressure in the maxillary (cheek) area

Frontal – causes pain  in the frontal sinus cavity (located above eyes), headache (particularly in the forehead )

Ethmoidal – can cause headaches, pain/pressure between/behind the eyes, the bridge of the nose (the medial canthi)

Sphenoidal – can cause pain or pressure behind the eyes, but often occurs in skull vertex (top of the head), over the mastoid processes, or the back of the head.

difference betweeen Rhinitis and Sinusitis-sinusitis

Sinusitis Locations

What is the difference between Rhinitis and Sinusitis?

Definitions of Rhinitis and Sinusitis

Rhinitis: Rhinitis is the irritation and inflammation of the mucous membrane inside the nose.

Sinusitis: Sinusitis is the inflammation of the sinuses, which are the air filled bony cavities located inside the facial bones.

Characteristics of Rhinitis and Sinusitis

Effect of the anatomy of the nasal cavity

Rhinitis: In rhinitis, the structure of the nasal cavity does not have much influence on the course of the illness.

Sinusitis: In sinusitis, the structure of the nasal cavity contributes to the duration of recovery and the chance of recurrences.

Radiological Features

Rhinitis: In rhinitis, increased soft tissue density of the nasal cavity may be seen.

Sinusitis: In sinusitis, the fluid level inside the sinuses may be seen.

Complication

Rhinitis: Rhinitis is usually self-limiting.

Sinusitis: Sinusitis may lead to serious complications such as meningitis and brain abscesses.

Disability

Rhinitis: Rhinitis is usually recovered within few days.

Sinusitis: Sinusitis usually has more severe symptoms and take longer duration for recovery.

Image Courtesy:
Blausen.com staff. “Blausen gallery 2014“. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine.DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. - Own work