Sinusitis is swelling of the sinuses, which can lead to pain and pressure in the head and face. Although sinusitis usually gets better on its own within 2-3 weeks, in some cases, it can be an ongoing problem, known as chronic sinusitis. An ENT specialist can help to provide a number of effective treatments for chronic sinusitis by getting to the root cause of the problem.
Sinusitis is when the sinuses, located in the bones behind the forehead, cheekbones, nose, and eyes, become inflamed. The sinuses are small, empty spaces that connect to the inside of the nose. The nose and sinuses are lined with structures called turbinates, which help to regulate airflow and moisten and filter air as you breathe.
Sinusitis causes the lining of the sinuses to swell up, this can stop mucus from draining into the nose and throat properly. Blocked sinuses can make it difficult to breathe through your nose and make the area around your nose, cheeks, eyes, and forehead painful and tender to the touch. Sinusitis can often develop following a cold, upper respiratory infection, or allergic reaction, but environmental irritants, certain medical conditions, and structural abnormalities (such as swollen mucus linings, nasal polyps, or a deviated septum) can also contribute to sinusitis and lead to chronic sinusitis – a complication of sinusitis.
Whereas acute sinusitis is only temporary and generally associated with a cold, chronic sinusitis usually lasts for three months or longer, despite treatment. Chronic sinusitis has similar signs and symptoms to that of acute sinusitis, but does not cause a fever. The most common symptoms of chronic sinusitis include:
- Nasal congestion
- Discolored (yellow/green), thick discharge from the nose
- Tenderness around the face
- Pressure or pain in the sinuses and face
- A headache that worsens when leaning forward
- Postnasal drip
- Sore throat and/or cough
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Puffy eyes
- Bad breath
- A reduced sense of smell or taste
- Nasal obstruction or congestion
- Pain in the ears or teeth
How Can an ENT Help with Chronic Sinusitis?
If you have ongoing symptoms that do not respond to treatments or recurrent sinusitis, an ENT specialist can diagnose chronic sinusitis by completing an examination, reviewing your medical history, and conducting some tests. Tests may include:
- A nasal endoscopy. A procedure that uses an endoscope (a thin tube with a light and a viewing instrument) to see the inside of the sinuses and to assess the sinus structures.
- Diagnostic imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans or computed tomography (CT) scans to examine the sinus structures, particularly if there is deep inflammation or physical obstruction that may be difficult to identify using an endoscope.
- Allergy tests if it’s suspected that allergies are triggering the condition.
- Nasal and sinus cultures to help determine the cause of an infection.
Treatment can vary depending on the cause of chronic sinusitis. Natural remedies such as saline nasal irrigation, drinking plenty of fluids, or using a humidifier in your home may be recommended to help alleviate symptoms, but other treatments may include:
Medications such as nasal or oral steroids and decongestants may be prescribed to help reduce inflammation. Decongestants and mucus-thinning drugs may also be recommended. Antibiotics may be prescribed for 3 to 12 weeks, for bacterial infections.
If chronic sinusitis is thought to be triggered by allergies, avoiding irritants and allergy triggers, immunotherapy (allergy drops), and antihistamines may be suggested to relieve symptoms.
If chronic sinusitis does not respond to medications or other conservative treatment methods, sinus surgery or other procedures may be required to open and drain the sinuses. This is usually carried out using minimally invasive methods that access congested sinus cavities via the nostrils.
A non-surgical treatment option to widen clogged sinus passageways and promote nasal drainage is balloon sinuplasty. The procedure involves inserting a wire and thin tube in the nostril and inflating it to widen the sinus passages.
Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure. It utilizes the use of an endoscope and slender surgical instruments through the nostrils to widen the sinus cavity and remove small amounts of bone, soft tissue, or polyps that are blocking a sinus opening. Endoscopic sinus surgery may also be used together with balloon sinuplasty.
If chronic sinusitis is complicated by a deviated septum or other structural issues, procedures such as a septoplasty or turbinoplasty may also be required to correct these issues.
Nasal and Sinus Specialist in Georgetown, Texas
If you have a nasal or sinus condition, call the ENT specialists at Georgetown ENT. We provide a comprehensive range of adult and pediatric ear, nose, and throat medical and surgical services for all your family’s needs. For more information about our services, call us at (512) 869-0604 or you can request an appointment online.