Sinusitis is one of the most common diseases in the United States, affecting about 1 in 7 adults each year. About 31 million Americans are diagnosed with sinusitis each year.
Young Children and Sinusitis
Before the immune system matures, all infants are susceptible to respiratory infections, with a possible frequency of one cold every 1 - 2 months. Young children are prone to colds and may have 8 - 12 bouts every year. Smaller nasal and sinus passages also make children more vulnerable to upper respiratory tract infections than older children and adults. Ear infections such as otitis media are also associated with sinusitis. Nevertheless, true sinusitis is very rare in children under 9 years of age.
The Elderly and Sinusitis
The elderly are at specific risk for sinusitis. Their nasal passages tend to dry out with age. In addition, the cartilage supporting the nasal passages weakens, causing airflow changes. They also have diminished cough and gag reflexes and faltering immune systems and are at greater risk for serious respiratory infections than are young and middle-aged adults.
People with Asthma or Allergies
People with asthma or allergies are at higher risk for non-infectious inflammation in the sinuses. The risk for sinusitis is higher in patients with severe asthma. People with a combination of polyps in the nose, asthma, and sensitivity to aspirin (called Samter's, or ASA, triad) are at very high risk for chronic or recurrent acute sinusitis.
Review Date: 05/10/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.