Who is affected by sinusitis

Viral sinusitis is extremely common. The exact number of cases is very difficult to estimate because many cases are not reported to health professionals and because health professionals do not all define the illness the same way.

In the United States, about 24 million people (about 8% of the population) are thought to get sinusitis each year. Sinusitis occurs in people of all ages and affects males and females about equally.1

Sinusitis sometimes develops after a common cold. In the U.S., children get about 6 to 8 colds a year. Adults get an average of 2 to 3 colds a year. Less than 2 out of 100 colds will develop into sinusitis.2

People develop sinusitis more often in the fall, winter, and spring. Sinusitis occurs more commonly in the midwest and southern regions of the United States.

Although not a serious health problem, sinusitis leads to a high number of doctor visits, missed school and work days, and antibiotic prescriptions, all of which result in high medical costs. Prompt and appropriate treatment of colds and early sinus infections may help avoid complications, long-term (chronic) problems, and the costs that come with them.


  1. Slavin RG (2005). Allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, and sinusitis. In DC Dale, DD Federman, eds., ACP Medicine, section 6, chap. 12. New York: WebMD.
  2. Gwaltney JM (2005). Sinusitis. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Principles and Practices of Infectious Diseases, 6th ed., pp. 772–782. Philadelphia: Elsevier Churchill and Livingstone.

Last Updated: August 15, 2008

Author: Shannon Erstad, MBA/MPH

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Donald R. Mintz, MD - Otolaryngology

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