Sinusitis is an inflammation of the nasal passages that prohibits mucus from draining properly. It is considered chronic when it persists for 12 weeks or longer and doesn’t respond to medical treatment. Chronic sinusitis is the single biggest chronic health condition in the U.S., affecting some 37 million Americans annually.
What Causes Chronic Sinusitis?
Chronic sinusitis is often the result of infection. Colds and allergies may lead to an abundance of mucus that blocks the sinuses, causing irritation and swelling and allowing bacteria and other germs to grow. Other factors that can cause chronic sinusitis include a deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps, tumors, complications from autoimmune disorders and trauma to the face or head.
What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis?
Symptoms of chronic sinusitis are similar to those of acute sinusitis, but the latter condition is temporary and usually clears up within a week. Signs are cold-like and include nasal congestion and discharge, sore throat, postnasal drip, facial pressure and swelling, loss of smell and taste, headache, fever, fatigue, cough and bad breath.
How Is Chronic Sinusitis Treated?
In order to diagnose chronic sinusitis, your doctor will examine you and ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor will visually inspect your nose for polyps and other obstructions. Your doctor may also use a nasal endoscopy or a CT scan for a more in-depth look.
Treatment is based upon how severe your symptoms are. Nasal decongestants may provide immediate relief, but they are a short-term solution and shouldn’t be used for more than a few days. If they are, symptoms can actually worsen.
Other temporary treatment options designed to provide instant relief include applying a warm, moist washcloth to your face periodically through the day, drinking lots of fluids, flushing the sinuses with a Neti pot or similar device and using a humidifier.
Chronic sinusitis requires a solution geared toward long-term effectiveness. Nasal steroid sprays, antihistamines, saline washes/sprays and oral steroids can all be used for extended periods without harm.
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) may be administered when allergies are the cause. If you are looking for a permanent solution, surgery may be performed to enlarge the sinus openings or repair a deviated septum.
Call Southern Utah Ear, Nose & Throat at (435) 628-3334 for more information or to schedule an appointment.