Rhinosinusitis, the inflammation of the mucous membrane of the nose and sinuses, has increased in both prevalence and incidence. Health officials believe that this disorder, also known as sinusitis, causes significant physical symptoms, negatively affects quality of life, and can substantially impair daily functions. It is now estimated that rhinosinusitis affects approximately 31 million Americans each year.
Recognizing a need for evidence-based rhinosinusitis guidelines, five national societies,The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI); The American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy; The American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS); The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology; and the American Rhinologic Society convened a panel of 30 physicians from a wide range of disciplines to develop definitions of rhinosinusitis for clinical research, and suggest clinical trial designs for studies that would allow for more appropriate use of pharmacologic, immunologic, and surgical interventions.
For the clinician, existing definitions of the disease fail to describe all manifestations of rhinosinusitis. This is due, in part, to the numerous causes of rhinosinusitis, which can be viral, bacterial, fungal, allergic, and for some patients, of unknown origin. Rhinosinusitis can be acute or chronic (the latter defined by the Sinus and Allergy Health Partnership as “a group of disorders characterized by inflammation of the mucosa of the nose and paranasal sinuses of at least 12 weeks duration." (Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, September 2003)). Other classes i.e., subacute, recurrent acute, acute exacerbation of chronic, community acquired bacterial, and nosocomial, have been used in medical literature.
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