Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

To look for the cause of your symptoms, your doctor will feel for tenderness in your nose or throat. To make it easier to see inside your nasal passages, he or she may:

  • Use a tool to hold your nose open
  • Apply medication that constricts blood vessels in your nasal passages
  • Shine a light into your nasal passages to look for inflammation or fluid

This visual inspection will also help rule out physical conditions that trigger sinusitis, such as nasal polyps or other abnormalities.

Your doctor also may use several other methods to help screen for chronic sinusitis:

  • Nasal endoscopy. A thin, flexible tube (endoscope) with a fiber-optic light inserted through your nose allows your doctor to visually inspect the inside of your sinuses. This also is known as rhinoscopy.
  • Imaging studies. Images taken using computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can show details of your sinuses and nasal area. These may identify a deep inflammation or physical obstruction that's difficult to detect using an endoscope.
  • Nasal and sinus cultures. Cultures are generally unnecessary for diagnosing chronic sinusitis. However, in cases in which the condition fails to respond to treatment or is progressing, tissue cultures may help pinpoint the cause, such as bacteria or fungi.
  • An allergy test. If your doctor suspects that the condition may be brought on by allergies, an allergy skin test may be recommended. A skin test is safe and quick and can help pinpoint the allergen that's responsible for your nasal flare-ups.
Jul. 02, 2013

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