What is chronic sinusitis and how is it treated?
The occasional sinus infection is to be expected, especially if you suffer from allergies or asthma. But when your symptoms drag on for weeks at a time and reoccur multiple times of year, you may have chronic sinusitis. What is chronic sinusitis and how is it treated?
A sinus infection is inflammation in the sinus cavities and tissue, caused by a virus (like a cold), a bacterial infection or a physical blockage (like nasal polyps or a deviated septum). When the sinuses become inflamed, mucus cannot drain adequately. As more of the passageway becomes blocked, trapped mucus becomes infected. Most sinus infections go away on their own, usually within 10-14 days. Some sinus infections do not respond well to treatment and can last for 12 or more weeks. These lingering infections are referred to as chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinus infections can also return multiple times a year, leaving sufferers with symptoms that seem to be present more often than not.
Symptoms of chronic sinusitis are identical to an acute sinus infection, but they will last for much longer. These symptoms include:
- Facial pain in the area of the sinus cavities
- Postnasal drip which can cause a sore throat
- A decrease in or complete loss of the sense of smell or taste
- Sinus headaches
- Pain in the upper teeth
- A sore neck
- Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
While acute sinus infections typically go away on their own with minimal intervention, chronic sinusitis requires more aggressive treatment. Treating the underlying cause, such as a deviated septum or bacterial infection, is crucial to addressing chronic sinusitis; without doing so, chronic sinus infections will continue to come back. Treatment options for active infections include antibiotics, corticosteroid medications and sometimes even sinus surgery to correct or remove blockages and damaged sinus tissue. Once a chronic sinus infection is gone, preventative methods are key to warding off future infections. Managing sources of inflammation, like allergies, through over-the-counter or prescription medications also plays an important role in prevention.
Sinus infections are miserable at best, but chronic sinusitis can be debilitating. If you suffer from sinus infections that just won’t go away, or keep coming back, it’s time to talk to a doctor about chronic sinusitis. At Biltmore ENT, our physicians are sinus specialists, and will work with you to find a treatment that lasts. Call (602) 560-1085 to schedule an appointment.