Read more about possible causes of lasting sinus troubles, what treatments are available and how you can prevent this problem in the future.
Chronic sinusitis occurs when the spaces inside your nose and head (sinuses) are swollen and inflamed for three months or longer, despite treatment.
This common condition interferes with the way mucus normally drains, and makes your nose stuffy. Breathing through your nose may be difficult, and the area around your eyes might feel swollen or tender.
Chronic sinusitis can be brought on by an infection, by growths in the sinuses (nasal polyps) or by swelling of the lining of your sinuses. Also called chronic rhinosinusitis, the condition can affect both adults and children.
Chronic sinusitis can be caused by an infection, growths in the sinuses (nasal polyps) or swelling of the lining of your sinuses. Signs and symptoms may include a blocked or stuffy (congested) nose that causes difficulty breathing through your nose, and pain and swelling around your eyes, cheeks, nose or forehead.
Common signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis include:
Other signs and symptoms can include:
Chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis have similar signs and symptoms. But acute sinusitis is a temporary infection of the sinuses often associated with a cold. The signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis last at least 12 weeks, but you may have several episodes of acute sinusitis before developing chronic sinusitis. Fever isn't a common sign of chronic sinusitis, but you might have one with acute sinusitis.
See a doctor immediately if you have the following signs or symptoms, which could indicate a serious infection:
Common causes of chronic sinusitis include:
Nasal polyps are soft, noncancerous growths on the lining of the nose or sinuses. They often occur in groups, like grapes on a stem.
You're at increased risk of getting chronic sinusitis if you have:
Serious complications of chronic sinusitis complications are rare, but may include:
Take these steps to reduce your risk of getting chronic sinusitis:
Your doctor may ask about your symptoms. He or she may feel for tenderness in your nose and face and look inside your nose in a physical exam.
Methods for diagnosing chronic sinusitis include:
Treatments for chronic sinusitis include:
Antibiotics are sometimes necessary for sinusitis if your infection is caused by bacteria. If your doctor can't rule out an underlying infection, he or she might recommend an antibiotic, sometimes with other medications.
If allergies are contributing to your sinusitis, allergy shots (immunotherapy) that help reduce the body's reaction to specific allergens might improve the condition.
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 the blockage, 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.
The upper left illustration shows the frontal (A) and maxillary (B) sinuses, as well as the ostiomeatal complex (C). In endoscopic sinus surgery (right illustration), your doctor uses a thin tube (endoscope) and tiny cutting tools to open the blocked passage and restore natural drainage (D).
These self-help steps can help relieve sinusitis symptoms:
A neti pot is a container designed to rinse the nasal cavity.
You'll likely see your primary care doctor first for symptoms of sinusitis. If you've had several episodes of acute sinusitis or appear to have chronic sinusitis, your doctor may refer you to an allergist or an ear, nose and throat specialist for evaluation and treatment.
When you see your doctor, expect a thorough examination of your sinuses. Here's information to help you get ready for your appointment.
Make a list of:
For chronic sinusitis, questions to ask your doctor include:
Don't hesitate to ask other questions.
Your doctor is likely to ask you questions, such as: