Chronic sinusitis is the persistent inflammation of your paranasal sinuses that lasts for three months or longer. The paranasal sinuses are a group of air-filled cavities surrounding your nasal cavity.
Sometimes, these sinuses are not able to drain properly, into the nose like they should. This is often due to infections that inflame and close off the natural drainage openings of the sinuses or due to nasal polyps that physically obstruct these openings. People with allergies or asthma are often more prone to this obstruction because these conditions lead to a baseline inflammation within the sinuses.
When the sinuses are unable to drain properly, this can lead to a sinus infection, also known as sinusitis. Acute sinusitis typically lasts for about 7-14 days and often resolves on its own or with a short course of antibiotics. Chronic sinusitis, on the other hand, is a sinus infection/inflammation that persists for much longer, typically about 12 weeks.
Symptoms of chronic sinusitis include pressure around the eyes and nose, nasal drainage, nasal congestion, a decreased sense of smell, post-nasal drip, and overall lethargy. Diagnosing chronic sinusitis often involves a CT scan to evaluate the inside of your sinuses to assess how open or obstructed the outflow tracts are.
Treatment for chronic sinusitis often involves longer courses of antibiotics to help fight off the infection. In addition, using both nasal steroids, like Flonase, and nasal saline irrigations have also proven to be effective.
When the above medical therapy fails, surgery is usually the next step. During the surgery, a small endoscope is inserted into the nose and micro-surgical instruments are used to open the sinus outflow tracts and drain the sinuses. A visit to your local ENT will help find the best treatment for you if you are suffering from symptoms of chronic sinusitis.
By Dr. Abbas Anwar
Dr. Anwar, a native of Southern California, is a board-certified otolaryngologist – head and neck surgeon, at Pacific Neuroscience Institute. He specializes in all aspects of general and pediatric ENT and has special interests in sinonasal diseases and infections, head and neck surgery, otologic disorders, and throat complaints. He is well trained in the latest leading-edge innovations in otolaryngology,including balloon sinuplasty, CT guided sinus surgery, and micro-laryngeal laser surgery. Go online to PacificENT.org, or call 310-362-9072 for more details.