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What is chronic sinusitis?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Chronic sinusitis, also known as chronic rhinosinusitis, is a long-term inflammation or swelling of the sinuses, which are air-filled spaces in the bones of the face and skull around the nasal cavity. It typically lasts for 12 weeks or more despite attempts at treatment.

Though the symptoms of chronic sinusitis are often less severe than those of acute sinusitis (which tends to get better by itself within 4 weeks), they last for much longer and can come and go frequently.

Chronic sinusitis symptoms

The symptoms of chronic sinusitis can vary from person to person but commonly include:

  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Pain or pressure felt in the face
  • Thick, discoloured (yellow or green) mucus
  • Unable to smell and taste things properly
  • Feeling tired or lethargic
  • Discomfort or a feeling of fullness in the ears
  • A sore throat or cough

What causes chronic sinusitis?

The most common causes of chronic sinusitis include:

  • Persistent or recurrent bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
  • Allergic reactions to airborne particles (such as pollen, dust, pet dander, or mould)
  • Nasal polyps – growths in the nasal and sinus passages
  • Exposure to environmental pollutants, cigarette smoke, or other irritants

How to prevent chronic sinusitis?

Preventing chronic sinusitis involves managing and minimising the risk factors that contribute to its development. Here are some strategies to help prevent chronic sinusitis:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep the mucus in your sinuses thin and flowing
  • Clear your nose with a salt water spray to flush out mucus
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating and after being in public places to stop the spread of viruses and bacteria that cause sinus infections
  • If you have allergies, avoid your triggers or use antihistamines if necessary
  • Use an air humidifier at home to keep your nasal passages moist and healthy

Frequently asked questions about chronic sinusitis

How do you know if you have chronic sinusitis?

Chronic sinusitis signs include ongoing facial pain, stuffy nose, and loss of smell. Your pharmacist can diagnose during an online consultation. They may recommend treatments like nasal sprays or antibiotics.

What to do about chronic sinusitis?

For chronic sinusitis relief, try saline nasal irrigation, steam inhalation, and staying hydrated. Over-the-counter decongestants or nasal steroid sprays may also help.

How common is chronic sinusitis?

Chronic sinusitis is quite common, affecting around 10% of adults in the UK. If you suspect you have chronic sinusitis, consult your pharmacist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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