Chronic Sinusitis

Chronic Sinusitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Chronic sinusitis is a condition characterized by an ongoing inflammation of the sinuses. It’s a common condition that affects an estimated 16 million Americans each year. Symptoms include nasal congestion, facial pressure, headache, post-nasal drip and thick mucus discharge. Causes of chronic sinusitis include allergies, viral or bacterial infections, environmental irritants, and certain anatomical abnormalities. Treatment options vary from lifestyle modifications, to medications, to surgeries.

What Causes Chronic Sinusitis?

The most common causes of chronic sinusitis are allergies and viral or bacterial infections, although sometimes environmental irritants or certain anatomical abnormalities can also be responsible. Allergies can cause inflammation that restricts airflow and leads to sinus blockages. This blockage can cause the sinuses to become filled with a thick, mucus-like discharge.

Viral or bacterial infections can also be responsible for a chronically inflamed sinus. Viruses such as the common cold are the most common cause. Bacterial infections are usually the result of an untreated viral infection. Both can cause inflammation leading to a blockage and thick mucus.

Environmental irritants like smoke, fumes and dust can also be responsible for chronic sinus congestion. In people with anatomically small or irregularly shaped sinuses, bacteria or mucus may be trapped and thus cause sinus inflammation.

What Are The Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis?

Chronic sinusitis is often characterized by a combination of symptoms. These symptoms can include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Facial pressure and pain
  • Headaches
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Thick, green or yellow mucus discharge
  • Bad breath
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

A physician can diagnose chronic sinusitis through a physical exam and ultrasound. In some cases, a sinus X-ray or CT scan may also be employed. Treatment options can include lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, avoiding allergens and taking a steamy shower. Anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce pain and inflammation. Antibiotics can be used to treat bacterial sinusitis. Severe cases may require endoscopic surgery.

Chronic Sinusitis is a common condition that can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms. Knowing the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options can help to limit the impact of this condition.