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What is Chronic Sinusitis?

What is Chronic Sinusitis?

Chronic sinusitis is a common condition in which the cavities around the nasal passages (sinuses) become inflamed and swollen for at least 12 weeks or more per year, despite attempts at medical treatment.  In addition to chronic sinusitis, the patients may also be suffering from recurrent, acute repeated episodes of sinusitis.  This is defined as 4 or more sinus infections per year.


Chronic sinusitis may be caused by infections, but also can be caused by anatomically narrow or obstructed sinus openings or a deviated nasal septum.  Chronic sinusitis most commonly affects young and middle-aged adults, but itSinusitis Diagram can also occur in children and the patients of any age.


Chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis have similar signs and symptoms, but acute sinusitis is a temporary infection of the sinuses often associated with an upper respiratory infection.  The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery definition of sinusitis requires at least 2 of the following signs and symptoms to be present for a diagnosis of sinusitis:

  • Drainage of a thick, yellow or greenish discharge from the nose, or down the back of the throat.
  • Nasal obstruction or congestion.
  • Pain, tenderness and swelling around the eyes, cheeks, nose, and forehead.
  • Reduce sense of smell and taste.

Other signs and symptoms can include ear pain aching in the jaw and teeth, cough which is usually worse at night, sore throat, bad breath, fatigue, irritability or nausea.  These signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis are similar to patients with isolated acute episodes of sinusitis.  However, in patients with chronic or recurrent sinusitis, the symptoms last longer and often cause more significant fatigue and malaise.  Fever is not a common sign of chronic sinusitis in adults, but it may occur in patients with acute sinusitis.


The symptoms of a serious infection include, but are not limited to:

  1. Pain or swelling around eyes.
  2. Swollen forehead.
  3. Severe headache.
  4. Confusion.
  5. Double vision or other visual changes.
  6. Stiff neck.
  7. Shortness of breath.

 Patients suffering from chronic sinusitis have symptoms lasting more than 12 weeks per year or have recurrent acute sinusitis occuring four or more times a year. There may be many causes for symptoms including nasal polyps, deviated nasal septum, trauma to the nose in addition to allergies, immune system deficiencies or other medical conditions.


Comprehensive ear, nose, and throat and allergy evaluations can usually be done on your initial visit to evaluate all the contributing factors to your complaints of chronic sinusitis or recurrent, acute episodes of sinusitis.  In office nasal endoscopic evaluation can easily evaluate underlying anatomical abnormalities contributing to repeated symptoms. We can address the rhinitis and inflammatory issues that may be contributing to persistent and recurrent symptoms.  Please check our other pages on this website for more information about medical and conservative surgical options to alleviate and control your chronic and repeated complaints.


Balloon Sinuplasty

Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

Rapid Allergy Testing

Nasal endoscopy