There’s sinusitis, an acute infection that lasts for a few weeks or less. And then there’s chronic sinusitis, which lasts for at least 12 weeks. Although it might seem that there can’t be that many people suffering from an ongoing issue that affects their ability to breathe, smell and otherwise go about their daily lives, millions of people, possibly as many as one out of every eight persons, has a chronic sinus infection.
Several things can trigger an ongoing sinus infection. In some cases, avoiding the triggers of sinusitis is your best option. But when the condition occurs because of an issue inside of the nose, sinus surgery might be the best option. Take a look at the main reasons why people get chronic sinusitis:
On their own, allergies can make you miserable. You’re sniffling, sneezing, your eyes are watering and you just want to go back to bed. Unfortunately, allergies can also lead to chronic sinus infections. When you have an allergic reaction to something, such as pollen or dust, your nasal passages become inflamed.
Ongoing inflammation can block off the sinuses, causing mucus to build up and leading to pressure behind the forehead and eyes. Treating your allergies, either with medication or by treating immunotherapy, can reduce your risk of developing chronic sinusitis. If you can’t treat your allergies, your next best option is to avoid the substances that trigger them.
Like allergens (for people who are allergic), pollution can cause inflammation in the sinuses, which can lead to sinusitis. A variety of pollutants can be to blame for ongoing sinus problems, from exposure to gas fumes to exposure to particulates produced by cleaning products. The smoke produced by cigarettes and cigars is another form of pollution that can contribute to sinus problems, whether you are a smoker or are exposed to secondhand smoke.
In some instances, an issue within your nose can be what’s to blame for chronic sinusitis. Nasal polyps, sometimes called sinus polyps, are small growths within the nose. Usually, they aren’t much of an issue. But in some cases, the polyps can be large enough to block the nasal passages, making inflammation in the sinuses worse.
Additionally, in some cases, sinus blockage can make the nasal polyps worse, causing them to swell. Certain medications, such as nasal sprays containing steroids, can help shrink the polyps. If medicine doesn’t help to improve the polyps, a surgeon might need to remove them.
A Deviated Septum
A deviated septum is another issue on the inside of the nose that can contribute to chronic sinusitis. The septum is the wall that divides the nasal passages. In some people, it is completely straight up and down. In many people, though, it leans to one side or the other. For many, a deviated septum isn’t a problem.
But if the septum leans too far over to one side or the other, it can cause blockage, which then makes it difficult to breathe and make it difficult for the sinuses to drain properly. If your surgeon thinks that a deviated septum is contributing to your sinus symptoms, he is likely to recommend septoplasty to correct the issue.
A Chronic Medical Condition
Certain ongoing medical conditions can increase a person’s risk for chronic sinusitis. For example, a condition such as cystic fibrosis, which interferes with the body’s ability to drain mucus, can contribute to ongoing sinus problems. Other chronic conditions that might be linked to chronic sinus infections include gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), HIV and certain other autoimmune disorders.
Since chronic sinusitis is often linked to chronic inflammation in the nasal passages, suffering from colds and other viral and bacterial infections on a regular basis might increase your chances of developing a chronic sinus problem. The infections often cause mucus to become thick and to drain slowly, which can lead to an infection in the sinuses. If those infections keep recurring, the sinus infection might persist rather than letting up.
ABOUT DR. RUBINSTEIN
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience helping patients with sinus problems in the Hudson Valley. A board-certified facial plastic surgeon and board-certified otolaryngologist, he has extensive knowledge of laser procedures, facial plastic surgery, and nasal and sinus treatments which allows him to improve aesthetics as well as the functionality of the nose and facial features. Dr. Rubinstein received his board certifications through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. To learn more about how to get relief from sinus infections, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center by calling 845-562-6673.