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Sinusitis - chronic
Alternative namesChronic sinus infection; Chronic sinusitis
DefinitionChronic sinusitis is a prolonged or recurrent infection and/or inflammation of the sinuses of the head.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The sinuses are openings in the bones around the nose. There are 4 pairs of sinuses connected to the nasal cavity by small openings. Normally, air passes in and out of the sinuses, and mucus and fluid drain from the sinuses into the nose.
Sinusitis occurs when there is infection or inflammation due to allergies in one or more of the sinuses. Acute sinusitis is often associated with upper respiratory infections, as inflammation of the nasal passages prevents drainage of fluid from the sinuses, which allows infection of the sinuses to occur.
A deviated nasal septum or other obstruction of the nose may also trap fluid in a sinus, causing chronic sinusitis. Dental infections such as tooth abscess may spread into the sinus and infect it directly.
Allergy to the aspergillus species of fungus appears to cause a particularly difficult to treat form of chronic sinusitis.
SymptomsSymptoms may persist for 3 months or more.
Signs and tests
The goals of treatment are the cure of the infection and the relief of symptoms.
Topical steroids in the form of a nose spray may be helpful in chronic sinusitis related to allergy. Surgery to clean and drain the sinuses may be necessary. Repair of a deviated septum or nasal obstruction may prevent recurrence of chronic sinusitis.
Expectations (prognosis)Chronic sinus infections are usually curable but may require extended treatment. They tend to recur, particularly if underlying conditions such as nasal obstructions are not corrected.
Calling your health care providerCall for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms indicate chronic sinusitis.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if acute sinusitis symptoms do not improve with treatment.
PreventionUse of decongestants during upper respiratory infections might theoretically reduce the chances of developing sinusitis. However, decongestant nasal sprays should only be used for short periods of time to avoid the risk of worsening congestion ("rebound" or rhinitis medicamentosa).
Update Date: 8/4/2002Camille Kotton, M.D., Infectious Diseases Division, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT