Chronic Sinusitis

What is Chronic Sinusitis?

Sinuses are hollow spaces in your head that help cushion the skull from trauma. Your sinus has a lining that secretes mucus to help flush away toxins and keep the sinus moist.  Sometimes, your sinus can get infected, swollen, and start to increase extra mucus. This infection, sinusitis, can cause you to feel pressure in your head, congestion, postnasal drip, or a decreased sense of smell. Sinusitis typically resolves in 2-3 weeks. However, if the infection persists for more than three months, it can be considered chronic sinusitis. If you believe you have these symptoms and they have persisted despite antibiotic treatment, speak to your doctor about possible chronic sinusitis.  

What causes Chronic Sinusitis?

It is estimated that 11.6% of Americans suffer from chronic sinusitis, resulting in 242,000 emergency room visits each year. The most common causes of Chronic Sinusitis is when there is a blockage to the nasal passage.  This can be caused by nasal polyps, which is tissue overgrowth in the nasal cavity, or a deviated septum that blocks airflow in the nasal passage. Additionally, complications from chronic conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis, HIV, or other immunosuppressive disorders can also lead to blockage of the sinuses.  If you suffer from allergies or various respiratory infections that cause inflammation to the sinuses, the drainage of mucus from the sinuses can be blocked causing an infection. You may have an increased risk of developing chronic sinusitis if you suffer from asthma, aspirin sensitivity, exposure to pollutants, or dental infections.

What are the symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis?

As seen above, we know that chronic sinusitis causes inflammation of the sinuses and a buildup of mucus. If you feel facial pressure around your eyes and nose, congestion, thick colored drainage, or postnasal drip, you may be suffering from sinusitis. You may also lose your sense of taste or smell. Other symptoms include: ear or jaw pain, cough, sore throat, or fatigue. If you feel your symptoms are not improving see your doctor.  For more information on symptoms and complications click here

How to prevent and treat Chronic Sinusitis?

Some ways to prevent infection is to wash your hands frequently, avoid individuals who are sick, and use a humidifier in your home. It is also important to manage allergies and avoid pollutants like cigarette smoke.  Your doctor may prescribe corticosteroids such as fluticasone (Flonase) or triamcinolone (Nasacort), which can help treat inflammation. These medications might be paired with saline nasal sprays to wash out any irritants in the sinuses. If your condition is not responding with traditional medication, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove any polyps or other obstructions.  To read more about treatments and clinical trials click here.

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