In the US, chronic sinusitis affected about 11.6 percent of adults. This condition can affect your ability to breathe which has an impact on everything from exercise to your ability to sleep soundly. When you get an accurate diagnosis, it can ensure that you are on a treatment regimen that can alleviate your symptoms. Seeing the right specialist can help to ensure that you get a diagnosis and the proper treatment faster.
What is Chronic Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is characterized by inflammation in your sinuses. It is considered chronic when it lasts for over 12 weeks. General sinusitis usually occurs as the result of an infection and can be cleared up with antibiotics. However, when the condition is chronic, antibiotics usually do not help since bacteria is often not the culprit.
Possible causes of this condition include:
Deviated septum: This condition can further narrow or restrict the sinus passages, worsening your symptoms.
Respiratory infections: When you have an infection in your respiratory tract, mucus drainage may be blocked due to your sinus membranes becoming thickened and inflamed.
Nasal polyps: Your sinuses can get blocked by these tissue growths.
Allergies: Allergies can cause inflammation which can block your sinuses.
Other conditions: Certain other medical conditions can cause a nasal blockage, such as HIV, cystic fibrosis, and other conditions that are related to your immune system.
Some people are at a higher risk for chronic sinusitis, such as those who have the following conditions:
- Deviated septum
- Dental infection
- Allergic conditions, such as hay fever
- Nasal polyps
- Aspirin sensitivity
- Regular exposure to cigarette smoke or other pollutants
When you have chronic sinusitis, there are several symptoms that you might experience:
- Discharge from your nose that is discolored and thick
- Breathing through your nose might be difficult due to nasal congestion or obstruction
- Your sense of taste and smell may decrease
- Nasal inflammation
- Postnasal drip is drainage that goes down the back of your throat
- Tenderness, swelling, or pain around your cheeks, nose, eyes, or forehead
While less common, it is also possible to experience the following:
- Your teeth and upper jaw might ache
- Sore throat
- Pain in one or both ears
- Throat clearing or cough
- Bad breath
Before you develop chronic sinusitis, you may experience several bouts of acute sinusitis. The symptoms are mostly the same, but with the acute type, you could also experience a fever. The symptoms severity varies, with some people finding them to be annoying while others may find it hard to work or take care of their other responsibilities.
It is rare to experience severe complications as a result of this condition. However, if they occur, they could include:
Infections: While uncommon, it is possible for chronic sinusitis to lead to meningitis. This is a serious infection that is characterized by the fluid and membranes that surround the spinal cord and brain becoming inflamed.
Vision problems: It is possible for an infection in your sinuses to make its way to your eye socket. This can result in a reduction in your vision. In the most severe of circumstances, it could cause blindness that has the potential to become permanent.
Type of Doctor You Should See for Chronic Sinus Problems
If you have chronic sinus issues, you want to see an ENT professional in Robbinsville as they specialize in ear, nose and throat problems. Depending on your insurance, you might need to see your primary care doctor first to get a referral to an ENT.
Since chronic sinus issues can sometimes be tricky to treat, seeing this type of doctor can be more helpful since they have a narrower focus compared to a general practitioner. After medical school, an aspiring ENT will do a residency in this field that lasts for five years. This allows them to gain the expertise needed to treat chronic sinus issues and other disorders of the ears, nose, and throat.
When to See an ENT
Any suspicion of this condition warrants a trip to your doctor. However, the following indicates that you should consult with an ENT as soon as possible:
- Your sinusitis symptoms have been going on for 10 days or more
- You have had multiple bouts of acute sinusitis
- Your acute sinusitis episodes are not responding to treatment
- You have seen your general practitioner and there has been no symptom improvement
What Can an ENT Do for Chronic Sinus Problems?
Most ENTs will start with medications to see if they help to alleviate your symptoms. Commonly used medications include:
Saline nasal irrigation: These medicines help to rinse away allergies and irritants, as well as reduce drainage.
Aspirin desensitization treatment: If your condition is due to a reaction to aspirin, your doctor might offer this treatment which gradually increases the doses of aspirin that you take under supervision to improve your tolerance.
Nasal corticosteroids: These come in the form of a nasal spray and help to reduce inflammation in your sinuses.
Injected or oral corticosteroids: If your sinusitis is severe and does not respond to the nasal type, your doctor might recommend injected or oral forms of this medication.
If you do not respond to medication, your doctor might recommend a surgical procedure referred to as endoscopic sinus surgery. This surgery involves inserting an endoscope into your sinuses to get a better look at them. While there, your doctor can do things like remove polyps or tissue, or make your sinus passage wider to ensure better drainage.
It is important that you do not let chronic sinus problems linger. If you are experiencing symptoms, talk to your doctor so that you can get an accurate diagnosis. No matter the issue, there are effective treatments that could help you to breathe easier.