What is Chronic Sinusitis?
Chronic sinusitis is a common condition in which the cavities around the sinuses become inflamed and swollen for at least 12 weeks. This condition interferes with drainage and causes mucus buildup within the nasal cavity. Breathing through your nose might become difficult and the area around your eyes and face can become swollen, and you can also experience facial pain and tenderness.
Some conditions that can lead to sinusitis are:
- The common cold
- Allergic rhinitis (swelling of the lining of the nose)
- Small growths called nasal polyps
Deviated septum which is a shift in the nasal cavity. Any of these situations can interfere with drainage and can cause the mucus to build up inside the nasal cavity. There are a few types of sinusitis:
- Acute Sinusitis usually starts with cold like symptoms like a runny and stuffy nose and lasts around 2-4 weeks.
- Subacute Sinusitis Inflammation usually lasts around 4-12 weeks and a chronic inflammation symptoms last 12 weeks or longer.
- Chronic Sinusitis happens several times a year with recurring symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis?
- Nasal drainage that is thick and discolored
- Facial pain, pressure, or fullness, that often affects the cheeks, teeth, or area around the eyes
- Nasal congestion or obstruction
- Decreased sense of smell
- Post nasal drip
- Bad breath
- Ear pain, pressure, or fullness
How Common is Sinusitis?
Each year more than 35 million people are diagnosed with sinusitis Moreover, chronic sinusitis affects approximately 15% of the United States population and is one of the most common chronic illnesses in America.
How is Chronic Sinusitis Diagnosed?
Typically a Otolaryngologist (ear, nose & throat physician) will look at your symptoms and may order a CT scan in order to better visualise what may be causing the recurrent infections. The sinusitis diagnosis is based on your symptoms combined with objective findings identified during examination and result from CT Scan.
Additionally our physicians may perform a nasal endoscopy where a tubelike instrument equipped with tiny lights and a camera to view inside your nose and see the sinus drainage areas. A patient might get a “local” anesthesia which numbs the area but is not always necessary.
How is Chronic Sinusitis Treated?
Treatments vary to the degree of the seriousness of the sinusitis. For simple sinus infection a doctor might recommend to use a decongestant and saline nasal washes, however those shouldn’t be used for more than three days. If antibiotics are prescribed, you should not use them for more than 10 to 14 days.
Natural treatments such as a vaporizer or inhaling steam from a shower can temporarily relieve some of the symptoms of chronic sinusitis. Also, a warm compress can help ease pain in the nose and sinuses. These types of conservative treatments are made to temporarily address the problem, however if you have recurring sinus pain there are several surgical options that can be recommended such as balloon sinuplasty, rhinoplasty or septoplasty.
If you or a loved one suffer from chronic sinus infections, sinus pain or pressure, contact Fayetteville Otolaryngology at 910-249-6102 to schedule an appointment with one of our sinus experts.