Chronic sinusitis is a common condition in which the cavities around nasal passages (sinuses) become inflamed and swollen for at least 12 weeks, despite treatment attempts.
Conditions that can cause sinus blockage include:
- The common cold
- Allergic rhinitis, which is swelling of the lining of the nose
- Small growths in the lining of the nose called nasal polyps
- A deviated septum, which is a shift in the nasal cavity
- Thick, discolored discharge from the nose or drainage down the back of the throat (postnasal drainage)
- Nasal obstruction or congestion, causing difficulty breathing through your nose
- Pain, tenderness and swelling around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead
- Reduced sense of smell and taste in adults or cough in children
- Nasal polyps
- Deviated nasal septum
- Respiratory tract infection
How to diagnose sinusitis?
To diagnose the sinusitis, the otolaryngologist head & neck surgeon performs nasal endoscopy. A thin, flexible tube (endoscope) with a fiber-optic light inserted through your nose allows your doctor to see the inside of your sinuses. This also is known as rhinoscopy.
Images taken using a CT scan or MRI can show details of your sinuses and nasal area. These might pinpoint a deep inflammation or physical obstruction that’s difficult to detect using an endoscope.
The goal of treating chronic sinusitis is to:
- Reduce sinus inflammation
- Keep your nasal passages draining
- Eliminate the underlying cause
- Reduce the number of sinusitis flare-ups
In cases resistant to treatment or medication, endoscopic sinus surgery might be an option. For this procedure, the doctor uses a thin, flexible tube with an attached light (endoscope) to explore your sinus passages.
Depending on the source of obstruction, the doctor might use various instruments to remove tissue or shave away a polyp that’s causing nasal blockage. Enlarging a narrow sinus opening also may be an option to promote drainage.
Warm, moist air may help if you have chronic sinusitis. You can use a vaporizer, or you can inhale steam from a pan of warm water. Make sure the water isn’t too hot.
Antibiotics are sometimes necessary for sinusitis if you have a bacterial infection. If your doctor can’t rule out an underlying infection, he or she might recommend an antibiotic, sometimes with other medications.