What is Chronic Sinusitis and How Can it be Treated?

what is chronic sinusitis

When the tissues within your sinuses, which are found in your forehead, cheeks, and nose, get inflamed, it results in sinusitis. Symptoms such as runny or stuffy nose, face discomfort, and occasionally fever are caused by this inflammation. There are different types of sinusitis based on what causes it, like viruses, bacteria, fungi, or allergens and how long it lasts that is acute, subacute, chronic, or recurrent. Despite the similarities between the two groups' symptoms, their underlying illnesses and duration differ.

This comprehensive overview will explore the symptoms, causes, preventive measures and chronic sinusitis treatment.

What is Chronic Sinusitis?

An ongoing sinus discomfort that lasts for 12 weeks or more is called chronic sinusitis. It results in symptoms including nasal congestion, swelling or sensitive areas around the eyes, and trouble breathing through the nose. Among the most frequent causes are sinus lining irritation, nasal polyps, and infections. Chronic sinusitis needs continuous care, in contrast to acute sinusitis, which normally goes away in ten days. To improve long-term comfort, medical practitioners can provide a variety of therapies to treat the underlying causes and reduce symptoms.

Common symptoms of chronic sinusitis encompass:

  1. Runny Nose: Thick, discoloured mucus flows from the nose.
  2. Postnasal Drip: Mucus drips down the back of the throat.
  3. Congestion: The nose feels blocked or stuffy, making breathing difficult.
  4. Facial Discomfort: Pain, soreness, and oedema around the eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead are examples of facial discomfort.
  5. Taste and scent Impairment: Diminished capacity for taste and scent.

Additional symptoms may include:

  • Ear Pain: Discomfort in the ears.
  • Headache: A persistent headache may accompany chronic sinusitis.
  • Tooth Ache: Aching sensations in the teeth.
  • Cough: Persistent coughing may be present.
  • Sore Throat: Throat discomfort or irritation.
  • Bad Breath: Unpleasant breath odour.
  • Fatigue: Experiencing a lack of energy and fatigue.

The goal in treating chronic sinus problems is to manage and reduce inflammation because these issues usually stem from irritation in your sinuses. Your treatment options for chronic sinus problems will depend on your specific condition.

Causes of Chronic Sinusitis

Chronic sinusitis occurs when the sinus tissues, connected hollow spaces behind the forehead, cheekbones, and nose, become inflamed and hinder the normal flow of air and mucus. These sinuses are lined with tissue that produces mucus, essential for maintaining nasal moisture and filtering out particles like bacteria, viruses, and allergens.

There can be several causes of chronic sinusitis:

  1. Blockage in the Airways: Allergies, asthma, or cystic fibrosis can block the airways, irritating the sinuses.
  2. Tooth Infections and Sinus Trouble: A tooth infection spreading to your sinuses can cause lasting sinus problems.
  3. Weaker Immune Systems and Sinus Issues: If your immune system is weak, you're more prone to infections, increasing the chances of ongoing sinus troubles.
  4. Nasal Polyps Discomfort: Nose polyps, odd growths in your nose, can clog your nasal passages, causing prolonged discomfort.

If you have asthma or allergies, you're more likely to develop chronic sinus problems. These conditions can make the tissues in your sinuses swell because they irritate or inflame the airways. With constant inflammation, the chances of experiencing long-lasting sinus issues go up.

What is the treatment for chronic sinusitis?

Treating chronic sinusitis can vary, and the best approach for you depends on your individual circumstances. Your doctor might recommend:

  1. Nasal Saline Irrigation: Rinsing the nasal passages with saline helps clear mucus and reduce inflammation.
  2. Nasal Steroid Sprays: These sprays help control inflammation in the nasal passages, relieving symptoms.
  3. Surgery: In some instances, surgical interventions may be necessary to address underlying issues contributing to chronic sinusitis. This could involve correcting a deviated septum (septoplasty), removing nasal polyps, opening up sinuses, or eliminating fungal balls (clumps of fungal infection obstructing sinuses).
  4. Balloon Sinuplasty: This procedure is designed to open sinus cavities and promote better drainage, relieving chronic sinusitis symptoms.

Combinations of these strategies may be used in individual treatment programs to address certain causes or contributing factors of chronic sinusitis. To ascertain the best course of action for treating a problem, depending on its severity and underlying reasons, it is imperative to speak with a healthcare professional. Meeting with the medical staff on a regular basis might assist in tracking improvement and modifying the treatment regimen.

How Can Chronic Sinusitis Be Prevented?

There are steps you can take for chronic sinusitis prevention to potentially prevent infections and their onset. Consider the following measures:

  1. Address Underlying Conditions: Treat conditions that may contribute to chronic sinusitis, such as asthma and allergies.
  2. Steer clear of Allergens: Dust, pollen, smoke, animal dander, and mould are among the allergens that can cause your sinuses to swell.
  3. Give Up Smoking: If you smoke, think about quitting and avoid the company of other smokers.
  4. Maintain Good Hand Hygiene: Wash your hands well with soap and water to prevent illnesses.
  5. Nasal Irrigation: Rinse your nasal passages with a saline solution using a neti pot or purchased solution.
  6. Humidify: Use a humidifier to maintain moisture in nasal tissues, reducing the risk of irritation.

Difference Between Chronic and Recurrent Sinusitis

Both chronic and recurrent sinusitis have sinus inflammation as a common feature. However the condition presents differently. The following are the main differences between chronic and recurrent sinusitis:


Chronic Sinusitis

Recurrent Sinusitis


Lasts for 12 weeks or longer

Intermittent episodes within a year

Frequency of Episodes

Continuous or prolonged. Symptoms last at least 12 weeks. Bacteria are usually the cause.

Recurrent acute sinusitis symptoms come back four or more times in one year and last less than two weeks each time


Persistent, may be less severe

Acute during episodes, similar to chronic sinusitis


Persistent infections, nasal polyps, structural issues

Repeated respiratory infections, allergies


Chronic sinusitis medication includes a combination of antibiotics, nasal corticosteroids, surgery if needed

Antibiotics, decongestants, antihistamines, symptomatic relief measures


Chronic sinusitis requires personalised approaches for treatment and prevention. Understanding its unique features and talking with healthcare providers are crucial steps. People may effectively manage the effects of chronic sinusitis on their everyday lives and improve their general well-being by taking proactive steps and encouraging open communication. By using a comprehensive and personalised approach, chronic sinusitis is better understood, which improves long-term results and improves the quality of life for people who have it.