Chronic sinusitis, sometimes categorized as chronic rhinosinusitis, refers to a variety of inflammatory conditions that occur in the spaces between your nose and your head. As the word chronic suggests, there are variations of sinus inflammations that continue for as long as two or three months and sometimes longer. This can occur in children and adults and can be mildly uncomfortable to seriously distressing, as the inflammation manifests as a severe headache just behind and somewhat above your nasal cavities.
Clearly, a long-term problem with sinus infections can be very disruptive, interfering with your ability to think straight or have an enjoyable time on social occasions. The San Diego internal medicine doctors see many cases of sinusitis, which is not a rare condition. However, this is also evidence that cold weather is not the cause of sinusitis. San Diego is one of the most comfortable cities in the country with regard to weather. But the city still has its share of patients with inflamed sinus cavities.
The names sinusitis and rhinosinusitis are generally interchangeable. As with other cold-like illnesses, sinusitis can be considered a common cold and attributed to wet, damp, winter weather. In fact, the weather has less to do with sinus headaches than many believe. Sinusitis is a form of infection that isn’t attributed to the seasons, although a winter cold could be the result of damp indoor weather with humidity from a home’s heating system and poor ventilation.
The symptoms, which are duplicated by other cold-like conditions, include inflammation of the nasal passages, persistent draining down the back of the throat (known as postnasal drainage), and difficulty breathing due to mucus build up in your airways. Sinusitis also includes painful swelling in the cheeks, eyes, forehead, and nose. This can also reduce your sense of smell. A mucus discharge from the nose is possible.
Sinusitis can also arise without a mucus reaction and without telltale signs, like shortness of breath. Without such telltale symptoms, some patients experience swelling in tissues around the ear. Patients are also likely to feel fatigued. The nasal drainage can cause coughing and, in turn, a sore throat. Some experience aches and pain in the jaw or the teeth. Some come down with a case of bad breath.
See A Doctor
There are several indicators that sinusitis has become so acute or persistent that you should see a doctor. If your sinusitis lasts for more than 10 days, see a physician. If the symptoms retreat but return soon after, make an appointment.
Other considerations include running a temperature – having a fever – experiencing a severe headache or sporadic confusion. It is also important to see a doctor if the sinus infection includes a stiff neck.
The causes of sinusitis help you understand why this condition is not just a cold and why it persists even after you have reduced the discomfort to a reasonable level. Here are some causes that point to sinusitis as an ongoing problem:
A polyp is a growth of soft tissue that, in this case, can block nasal passages. This contributes to a build-up of moist or mucus-laden air, which makes infections possible.
A deviated septum refers to an abnormal position of the soft tissue wall that separates the nostrils. A deviated septum can also block, partially or significantly, the nasal passages.
Respiratory Tract Infections
Infections in your nasal passages can lead to inflammation. This is your body’s response to bacteria, viruses, or fungal invasion. White blood cells are sent to the location of the infection and they go about defending you from the offending pathogen.
A variety of allergies cause mucus to build up. Hay fever, which refers to some summertime allergies, causes mucus to build up, becoming painful when the inflammation begins.
Treating sinusitis begins with a proper diagnosis. As there are several causes for sinusitis to occur, it will take some investigative work for your physician to consider various options for treatment.
Diagnosing is done through a history-taking interview with the doctor, who may request X-ray, MRI, or CT scans to identify the culprit. Your physician may also recommend allergy testing. Frequently, doctors also take a sample of the mucus to send to a laboratory to investigate the presence of various strains of bacteria.
Once the diagnosis is complete, the doctor may recommend medications to alleviate the symptoms. If the cause of the sinusitis includes polyps or a deviated septum, your doctor might recommend surgery to free up your airways.
In addition, San Diego pain management doctors at Pacific Medical Care will review your case and suggest a pain management program that can help relieve distress and discomfort. Call 619-333-8114 for an appointment today.