According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 30 million adults are diagnosed with sinusitis in the United States each year. This relatively common condition occurs when the sinuses become inflamed and blocked, leading to symptoms such as nasal congestion, colored nasal discharge, headache and pressure or pain around the eyes, midface or teeth.
Sinusitis may be acute in nature, meaning that symptoms resolve on their own and are easily managed with over-the-counter or at-home remedies. Often, however, the most effective way to get rid of sinusitis is through professional medical diagnosis and treatment. This is particularly important for patients who suffer from recurrent or chronic sinusitis.
At Sierra Nevada Ear Nose & Throat, we understand that chronic sinusitis can have a serious and negative impact on quality of life. That is why our team specializes in identifying the underlying causes of sinusitis and creating individualized, effective treatment plans.
What is Sinusitis
To understand sinusitis, it is important to first understand sinuses. The sinuses are four sets of paired cavities in the head. These cavities are connected through a network of narrow channels, running over the low forehead (frontal), between eyes (ethmoid), behind the nose (sphenoid) and across the cheekbones (frontal). The sinuses are lined with tissue and a thin layer of mucus. This mucus typically drains out the nose, helping rid the body of dirt and bacteria.
Sinusitis occurs when the sinus lining swells and blocks the channels that drain the sinuses. Mucus then fills up the nose and sinus cavities. This is commonly referred to as a sinus infection.
Symptoms of sinusitis include:
- Nasal congestion and discharge–a stuffy or blocked nose, thick yellow or green discharge and/or post-nasal drip (drainage in the back of the throat)
- Sinus headache–pain and pressure across the forehead, around the eyes and/or on the cheeks, which often worsens when bending forward
- Sinus pain–pressure or fullness in the midface, facial swelling and/or an achy feeling in the teeth or upper jaw
- Other issues–fatigue, reduced sense of taste or smell and/or halitosis (bad breath)
Sinusitis is closely related to–and often the result of–rhinitis. Rhinitis involves a swelling of the nasal membranes in response to the introduction of a virus, bacteria or allergen. Colds or allergies such as hay fever are common causes of acute rhinitis. This blockage of the nasal passages can then lead to blockage of the sinuses and the development of sinusitis. In fact, sinusitis is sometimes referred to as “rhinosinusitis.”
Rhinitis is not the only cause of sinusitis, however. Sinusitis may also be the result of immune system disorders, blockages such as tumors or polyps, a deviated septum or fungal infections. Identifying the root cause is vital to determining how to get rid of sinusitis.
How Do I Know I Have Chronic Sinusitis?
Some bouts of sinusitis may be acute in nature, meaning symptoms last fewer than four weeks and generally resolve on their own. Other times, sinusitis is chronic, meaning that symptoms last 12 weeks or longer and do not resolve with over-the-counter or at-home treatments. Chronic sinusitis can negatively impact a variety of daily functions, including sleep and activity. It can also be the sign of an underlying problem, such as chronic inflammation or long-term blockages in the sinus cavities.
If you are experiencing chronic or frequently recurring sinus infections, it is best to consult with an otolaryngologist (aka an ear, nose and throat doctor). Sierra Nevada ENT specializes in diagnosing and treating chronic sinusitis.
When you visit us, we will begin with an interview about your sinus symptoms and history and a physical exam. Occasionally, we may refer patients for additional imaging, allergy testing or cultures. Based on these results, we can determine the best chronic sinusitis treatment plan for you.
Many people look for home remedies to sinus problems, including over-the-counter medications, nasal irrigation, humidifiers and more, but for the most effective relief from symptoms, consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in treating ear, nose and throat issues.
The Sierra Nevada ENT team takes a comprehensive approach to resolving or managing sinus problems by creating an individualized treatment plan. This plan is based on a variety of factors, including the frequency, duration and severity of your symptoms, as well as an examination of your sinuses. Treatment options depend upon the diagnosis and may include:
- Medication, such as antibiotics, decongestants or nasal steroids
- Allergy treatment, such as antihistamines, nasal spray or immunotherapy (allergy shots)
- Surgery, such as a polypectomy (to remove nasal polyps) or septoplasty (to repair a deviated septum)
In all cases, our goal is to formulate a sinusitis treatment plan to provide relief from symptoms and improve quality of life.
Sierra Nevada Ear Nose & Throat
Sierra Nevada Ear, Nose & Throat has been serving patients in Northern Nevada for more than 25 years. Our doctors specialize in diagnosing and treating the causes of chronic sinusitis. Even if it is not a serious condition, we can assess what is wrong and help improve your sinus health.
We offer chronic sinusitis treatment in our offices in Reno, Carson City, Fallon and Gardnerville. Schedule an appointment with Sierra Nevada ENT to learn more.