Sinus infections are a common problem for most of us, particularly when the seasons change. You know the symptoms: postnasal drainage, stuffy nose, pressure around your eyes and forehead, and nasal discharge. Sometimes it comes with a sore throat, fever, or earache. Typically, you’re miserable for a few days or a week, and then you’re back to normal. But sometimes that sinus infection just won’t go away.

What is chronic sinusitis?When Sinus Infections Don't Go Away

Sinusitis, or inflammation of the sinuses, can be classified as either acute or chronic. To be considered chronic, a sinus infection must last at least twelve weeks. The symptoms are the same as an acute, or short-term, infection, except for the fever. Chronic sinusitis simply lasts longer.

Why do I have chronic sinusitis?

Chronic sinusitis may have several different causes. People with asthma or allergies are more likely to develop this long-lasting inflammation. This is often exacerbated by smoking, second-hand smoke, and environmental factors. It can also be caused by an infection of some sort. A deviated septum, when the passageway inside of your nose is off-center, makes it harder to breathe normally and is often a factor in chronic sinusitis.

How does my doctor diagnose me?

Many times, getting a chronic sinusitis diagnosis is easy. If you present yourself with these symptoms and you’ve had them for several months, you will likely be diagnosed. If your doctor is unsure of what is causing your issues, he may ask you to undergo a diagnostic test such as a CT or an MRI to look for further problems. If you see an ear, nose and throat doctor (usually called an ENT), they may use a small scope with a light and a camera on it to take a peek inside your nose.

How do I treat it?

Medical treatment starts with the easiest option. In this situation, stop smoking and ask people in your household to stop too. Make a point to avoid or prevent exposure to environmental allergies whenever possible. You may be asked to use a saline nasal spray to help clear out your nose. You might also need a nasal steroid to treat the inflammation. This can come in a spray form or drops. Alternately, your doctor may recommend that you take a steroid pill every day by mouth. This can be more effective because the medicine will reach the whole body, not just your nose. It might be necessary to take antibiotics or allergy medicines alongside steroids. If none of these options are successful in treating your chronic sinusitis, surgery could be recommended.

Consider making lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, as soon as possible. Be prepared to try several options before seeing an improvement in your symptoms. When you have sinus infections that just won’t go away, make sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lenkowski at Roanoke Valley ENT & Allergy by visiting our online appointment request form.