Millions of Americans suffer bouts of sinusitis (sinus infection) each year, with inflamed nasal passages and sinuses causing uncomfortable symptoms. In some cases, the misery continues despite attempts to treat the infection. Symptoms may also seem to get better, only to return.
In this blog, the ear, nose, and throat specialists at New York ENT explain why you might be getting a lot of sinus infections.
What are sinus infections?
A sinus infection occurs when swelling in your nose and sinuses prevents mucus from draining as it usually does. About a quart or two of mucus is produced by your nose and sinuses each day, and the substance helps to cleanse and humidify your nasal passages. Normally, it drains down the back of your throat and is mixed with saliva and swallowed without you noticing. Inflammation, however, causes it to become backed up.
If a sinus infection lasts for less than four weeks, it’s classified as acute sinusitis. If it lasts for more than 12 weeks or continues to recur even after treatment, you have chronic sinusitis.
What causes chronic sinus infections?
Chronic sinusitis is usually caused by one of the following:
- Nasal polyps (non-cancerous growths in the lining of the nasal cavity)
- Deviated nasal septum (a severely crooked wall between your two nostrils)
- Fungi (more rarely)
What symptoms are common with chronic sinusitis?
Acute and chronic sinusitis have many symptoms in common since their primary difference lies in the duration of symptoms. Fatigue more often associated with chronic sinus infections, probably due to the duration of symptoms and the possibility that it interferes with your sleep.
The following are some other common symptoms of chronic sinusitis:
- Nasal obstruction or congestion
- Thick, discolored discharge from your nose
- Noticeable sensation of mucus draining down the back of your throat (postnasal drip)
- Pain, tenderness, and swelling on your cheeks, nose, or forehead or around your eyes
- Reduced sense of smell and taste
- Sore throat
- Chronic bad breath
- Ear pain
- A cough that gets worse at night
- Pain in your upper jaw
What treatments are used for chronic sinus infections?
Chronic sinusitis is often treated with two goals in mind – to alleviate symptoms and to correct the underlying issues that are causing them.
Treatments may often include one or more of the following:
- Saline nasal sprays or solutions – to reduce drainage and rinse away irritants
- Nasal corticosteroid sprays – to reduce inflammation
- Oral or injected corticosteroids – to reduce more severe inflammation and symptoms
- Antibiotics – to help clear up a bacterial infection
- Immunotherapy – allergy shots that will help desensitize you to allergens (the substances you’re allergic to)
- Surgery – used to clear and enlarge sinus passageways, remove nasal polyps, or correct a deviated septum when other treatments don’t provide enough relief
If you have sinus infections symptoms that have lingered for months, make an appointment today with New York ENT. Our experienced physicians are committed to offering the most effective treatment options to achieve the best possible results.