Do your sinuses often feel like they are clogged or cause you pain? If this continues for weeks at a time, you may have sinusitis.
Congestion, coughing, and a runny nose can be very uncomfortable when they linger longer than a typical cold. For some people, sinusitis may be a chronic condition.
You may have chronic sinusitis if these symptoms stick around for longer than several weeks. This condition causes a host of symptoms that can make you feel miserable.
For instance, the constant pressure in your sinus cavities can lead to facial pain, headaches, and toothache. You might also find it difficult to breathe and have persistent fatigue.
There are different kinds of sinusitis, so the condition is not always chronic.
Keep reading to learn more about sinusitis and what can make it turn into a chronic condition.
Your sinuses are air-filled cavities found behind and between your forehead, cheeks, and eyes. They’re connected to your nose through tiny tubes.
The nasal sinuses are behind and around your nose and within your cheeks. Their work is mainly to moisten, warm, and filter the air in your nasal cavity.
Sinusitis occurs when you have an infection in your sinuses. Many things can cause sinusitis, such as:
- Viral, bacterial, or fungal infections
- Abnormal nose structures and growths like a deviated septum or nasal polyps
- Inflammation caused by allergies that block your sinuses
- Complications of immune system-related conditions such as GERD and cystic fibrosis
Sinusitis is inflammation that occurs inside your sinuses, leading to infection. But rhinitis, also called allergic rhinitis, occurs when you breathe in something you’re allergic to.
Having rhinitis makes the inside of your nose swollen and inflamed. Some people only have rhinitis during certain seasons of the year.
Others suffer from chronic rhinitis, where allergens are present throughout the year. Sinusitis and allergic rhinitis are linked to each other since allergic rhinitis causes blockages in your nose, which, in turn, block your sinuses.
Although sinusitis and rhinitis cause inflammation in your nose, they are not the same. You can also suffer from both rhinitis and sinusitis at the same time.
The different kinds of sinusitis are:
The common cold often causes acute sinusitis. Acute sinusitis usually resolves within 7 to 10 days but can last up to 4 weeks.
Once you experience symptoms that persist longer than four weeks, sinusitis is considered subacute. Subacute sinusitis typically goes away within 1 to 3 months.
If you have four or more sinusitis episodes in a year, you have recurrent sinusitis. Recurring sinusitis has symptom-free periods in-between episodes. You may need medication or surgical intervention to see improvement.
Chronic sinusitis is a long-lasting infection or inflammation of the sinuses. It lingers longer than subacute sinusitis.
Those with chronic sinusitis have sinusitis that lasts over 12 weeks. It may even persist for years.
Unlike recurrent sinusitis, chronic sinusitis and its disruptive symptoms last for a long time without symptom-free intervals between episodes.
Common signs of chronic sinusitis include:
- Blockage in the nasal passages
- Runny nose
- Congestion in the face
- Pus in the nasal cavity
- Discolored post nasal drainage
- Aching upper jaw
- Bad breath
- Sore throat
- Reduced sense of taste and smell
- Tenderness, swelling, and pain around your forehead, eyes, and cheeks
- Post-nasal drip, including mucus in your throat
There are many forms of treatments that you can use to relieve chronic sinusitis, including:
Your ENT specialist at Maryland ENT might prescribe antibiotics to treat infections caused by bacteria.
If the root cause of your chronic sinusitis is allergies, your ENT specialist may prescribe specific drugs for allergies, including oral or topical antihistamines. Your doctor can also suggest immunotherapy or allergy shots to manage and limit how you react to triggering allergens.
Nasal corticosteroid sprays can treat and prevent bothersome inflammation.
Both injected or oral corticosteroids can help relieve inflammation and reduce nasal polyps.
Chronic sinusitis stemming from a fungus is best when treated with antifungal medication.
Chronic sinusitis symptoms lead to extreme pain and significant discomfort. If other treatment options are no longer successful, balloon sinuplasty can provide relief from chronic sinusitis.
The minimally invasive procedure works by opening up inflamed sinuses.
During the in-office procedure, your surgeon at Maryland ENT puts a tiny, flexible balloon catheter into your sinus passage to enable drainage of mucus buildup.
The balloon is then gradually inflated, expanding the walls of your sinus passage without interfering with the integrity of the lining. Once done, the surgeon removes the balloon and uses a saline solution to rinse your nasal passages.
If balloon sinuplasty isn’t an option for you, endoscopic sinus surgery may also be a good alternative. The goal of ESS is to get rid of blockages in your sinuses.
Depending on the underlying cause of your chronic sinusitis, you might undergo surgery to fix a deviated septum or to remove polyps, tumors, or fungal balls. Eliminating these blockages improves sinus drainage and airflow through your nasal passages.
It also offers some much-needed relief from chronic sinusitis symptoms. The procedure reduces the severity and number of sinus infections.
Living with the debilitating symptoms of chronic sinusitis can considerably lower your quality of life. If you think you have chronic sinusitis, our expert physicians at Maryland ENT can accurately diagnose your condition and offer safe, effective treatments.
Want to start breathing easier and enjoying everyday life again? Schedule your appointment at Maryland ENT in Baltimore and Lutherville, MD, today!