What are the sinuses
There are four pairs of sinuses in the face and head located around the nasal cavities. The sinuses aid in the resonance of your voice and along with your nose, help to warm and humidify the air that you breathe. They are lined with the same tissue as your nose and are connected to the nasal cavity through small narrow openings.
What is sinusitis?
Sinusitis can occur if swelling of the lining of the nose and sinuses results in blockage or obstruction of these small openings. This results in nasal obstruction or congestion, mucous discharge from the front of the nose or the back of the nose, also known as post nasal drip, facial pain or pressure and decreased sense of smell.
Sinusitis may be acute or chronic, depending on the duration of symptoms. While the symptoms of acute and chronic sinusitis are similar, acute sinusitis resolves fairly quickly whereas chronic sinusitis persists longer than 12 weeks, despite appropriate treatment.
Acute sinusitis is a temporary infection usually preceded by a cold or flu. The symptoms of acute sinusitis respond to home remedies and medical treatment. The symptoms are short lived and usually resolve within a week or two.
Chronic sinusitis is a common condition with the potential to severely impact on your quality of life. The symptoms of nasal obstruction or congestion, mucous discharge from the front of the nose or the back of the nose, also known as post nasal drip, facial pain or pressure and decreased sense of smell are present for greater than 12 weeks, despite treatment.
It is important to be aware that headaches and pain in the face may not be due to sinus disease. Many other medical conditions can present with face pain, headaches and sinus like symptoms.
What causes chronic sinusitis?
Chronic sinusitis usually occurs due to a combination of factors acting together. These include anatomic abnormalities such as a deviated septum or narrow sinus openings. Respiratory tract infections, allergies such as hay fever and nasal polyps are other contributing factors. Regardless of the cause, the sinus lining becomes inflamed and swollen and the sinus openings become obstructed.
How is chronic sinusitis diagnosed?
Chronic sinusitis is diagnosed by having symptoms of sinusitis for longer than 3 months along with evidence of sinus disease during a fibre-optic examination of your nose with a small endoscope or evidence of sinus disease on a CT scan of the sinuses. Other investigations may include an MRI scan or allergy testing.
What is the treatment?
Chronic sinusitis is a long-term disease, often requiring a combination of treatments over time.
Long term medical therapy is successful in many cases in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.
If symptoms persist despite adequate medical treatment, sinus surgery may be indicated.
The aim of sinus surgery is to reduce the amount of diseased mucous lining and enlarge the sinus openings into the nose. This allows better delivery of saline rinses and medications to the sinuses, which usually have to be continued long term.
Your WestsideENT specialist will discuss treatment options tailored for you during your consultation.