Sinusitis is inflammation and swelling of the tissues that line the sinuses. This interferes with normal mucus drainage, leading to breathing difficulties, pain and pressure. When the condition persists for 12 weeks or longer, it is considered chronic.
What Causes Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is the number one reported chronic condition in the United States, affecting an estimated 37 million Americans. It’s most often caused by an infection brought on by a cold or allergies, but may also be the result of nasal polyps, a deviated septum, trauma to the face, hay fever, complications from immune system disorders or tumors.
What Are the Symptoms of Sinusitis?
Individuals suffering from sinusitis experience a variety of cold-like symptoms such as nasal congestion and discharge, postnasal drip, sore throat, facial pressure and swelling, loss of smell and taste, headache, fever, fatigue and bad breath.
Complications can include asthma attacks, meningitis, vision problems, aneurysms and stroke.
How Is Sinusitis Diagnosed?
In addition to a physical examination and a review of your medical history, an ENT will inspect your nasal passages for polyps and other abnormalities and check for inflammation and a buildup of fluid. Additional tests utilizing nasal endoscopy, CT scans, MRIs and allergy tests can be used to help confirm the diagnosis.
How Is Sinusitis Treated?
Treatments will vary depending upon the severity of your sinusitis and whether it’s an acute or chronic condition. Saline nasal sprays and corticosteroids are useful for rinsing your nasal passages and relieving inflammation. Decongestants are a good short-term solution, but extended use can actually worsen the condition. Antibiotics are usually prescribed for bacterial infections.
Antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays, saline washes and oral steroids all provide long-term relief. More permanent solutions such as immunotherapy (allergy shots) or surgery can bring relief to those suffering from chronic sinusitis.