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What are the Risk Factors for Chronic Sinusitis?

Chronic sinusitis is a common condition that can cause months of uncomfortable symptoms, including nasal congestion. It can affect anyone, including children, but it’s most common in young and middle-aged adults. In addition, there are several risk factors that can make you more likely to develop chronic sinusitis.

In this blog, the board-certified ear, nose, and throat physicians at New York ENT explain more about chronic sinusitis, including factors that increase your risk of developing this condition.

What is chronic sinusitis?

It's a common condition that’s characterized by sinuses that are inflamed and swollen for at least 12 weeks, even after attempts at treatment.

Although mucus is usually able to flow and drain freely from your nasal passages, sinusitis interferes with normal drainage. The swelling causes mucus to build up, which causes a variety of symptoms.

What are the symptoms of chronic sinusitis?

It can cause many uncomfortable symptoms, including the following:

  • Difficulty breathing through your nose
  • Thick yellowish or greenish discharge from the nose
  • Mucus that noticeably drips down the back of your throat (postnasal drip)
  • Pain, tenderness, and swelling in your face
  • A reduced sense of smell or taste
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the upper jaw and teeth
  • Ear pain
  • Sore throat
  • Bad breath
  • Nausea

What are the risk factors for chronic sinusitis?

You could have a greater risk of developing this type of sinusitis if you have one of the following:

  • A structural abnormality in your nasal passage – A deviated septum or nasal polyps can interfere with the free flow of mucus from your nasal passages and provide a breeding ground for germs.
  • Asthma – As many as half the people who have moderate to severe asthma also have sinusitis.
  • Hay fever or another allergic condition – These can affect the sinuses and cause congestion.
  • Immune system disorders – AIDS and other immune system disorders can increase your risk.
  • Cystic fibrosis – This genetic disorder causes mucus to be very thick and build up.
  • Pollutants – Cigarette smoke, industrial air pollution, and other pollutants can damage the cilia, which help move mucus through the sinuses.
  • Age – The elderly are at greater risk of having sinusitis. As you age, your nasal passages tend to dry out, and the cartilage supporting your nasal passages weakens. In addition, your immune system may be more compromised, and your cough and gag reflexes may be weakened.
  • Changes in atmospheric pressure – Being exposed to changes in atmospheric pressure – including those caused by swimming, flying, or climbing to high altitudes – can increase the chance that your sinuses will become blocked.

How is it treated?

It can be treated in the following ways:

  • Saline nasal irrigation – to rinse away irritants
  • Nasal corticosteroids – to reduce inflammation
  • Oral or injected corticosteroids – to relieve inflammation, but usually only in the short term and for severe cases.
  • Antibiotics – are helpful only for sinusitis that’s caused by bacteria
  • Allergy shots – if your sinusitis is linked to allergies
  • Surgery – can be used if other forms of treatments aren’t effective and your sinusitis is caused by a structural abnormality such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps.

If you’ve been suffering from chronic sinusitis symptoms, make an appointment today with New York ENT by calling (212) 873-6168. We provide the latest treatment methods for chronic sinusitis and are committed to providing care that’s knowledgeable, compassionate, and convenient.

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