Chronic sinusitis, or chronic sinus infection, is a recurring or long-lasting sinus infection. This type of infection is typically diagnosed by an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT) or primary care physician. Diagnoses requirements will depend on a variety of factors, so it’s important to see a doctor if you believe you may be suffering from chronic sinusitis.
The symptoms of chronic sinusitis include:
- Stuffy nose
- Drainage down the back of the throat
- Nasal inflammation
- Runny nose
- Pain and swelling around the eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead
- Cough or throat clearing
- Sore throat
Other symptoms such as bad breath or fatigue may be present in some people experiencing chronic sinusitis. These symptoms are also present in acute sinusitis but can last for weeks in chronic sinusitis.
Some people are more likely to develop chronic sinusitis than others. Risk factors for chronic sinus infections include:
- Deviated septum
- Nasal polyps
- Immune system disorders
- Fungal infections
- Dental infections
- Regular smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
There are several tests a doctor may perform to diagnose chronic sinusitis. This may depend on what your doctor believes is causing your chronic sinusitis. Here are some tests your doctor may perform:
Looking into your sinuses
A doctor may use a small camera to look up inside your nose. This will help your doctor see if you have a deviated septum, polyps, or tumors. This will also allow your doctor to look for inflammation in your sinuses.
If your doctor suspects allergies are causing chronic sinusitis, they may recommend an allergy skin test. This test involves lightly pricking your skin with allergens to see if you have a mild allergic reaction to them.
A CT scan or MRI may be taken to see details of your sinuses. This may be useful if your doctor believes you have a physical blockage that is causing your chronic sinusitis that is too deep to see otherwise.
Testing samples of nasal discharge
This is not a common test, but if your chronic sinusitis is not responding to treatment, your doctor may want to test your nasal discharge to rule out other causes. This will allow the doctor to see if bacteria or fungi are causing your chronic sinusitis.
Treatments for chronic sinusitis are tailored around the cause of infection. Allergy medications and saline solutions may benefit patients whose allergies are causing chronic sinusitis. Nasal corticosteroids can reduce inflammation, allowing discharge to drain properly, and preventing infection. If a deviated septum or nasal polyps are causing chronic sinusitis, your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure.
If you believe you may be suffering from chronic sinusitis, it’s important to book an appointment with an ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist). An ENT has specialized knowledge of chronic sinusitis and other similar conditions. By working with a doctor, you can get relief from your chronic sinusitis.