Sinusitis is a condition that affects the spaces inside your nose and head (the sinuses), meaning they are swollen, painful and inflamed. This becomes chronic when, despite treatment, the sinusitis remains for more than three months. If you have chronic sinusitis, you still have plenty of options when it comes to diagnosis and treatment.
Diagnosing chronic sinusitis
The first stage of diagnosing chronic sinusitis is usually a medical exam so that your doctor can look inside your nose and feel the condition of your nose and face. They may also ask about your symptoms. If it looks like chronic sinusitis might be the cause of your current challenges then your doctor will be able to carry out a number of different tests to confirm this.
- A deeper look into your sinuses. This is done with a very thin tube that is inserted through the nose and which will make it possible for the doctor to diagnose a problem such as polyps or a deviated septum.
- Allergy testing. If there is a chance that your chronic sinusitis is being triggered by allergies it will be important to do a skin test to see if there is an allergen that is causing the problem.
- Taking samples. These are usually taken via swabs from the inside of your nose, which can then be used to look for anything that might show why you have chronic sinusitis, such as bacteria.
- Imaging tests. An MRI or a CT scan can be used to create a clearer picture of your sinuses, for example to show an area of especially bad inflammation or where there might be a physical blockage, such as a polyp or a tumour.
Treating chronic sinusitis
- Medication. There is a very wide range of different medication that can be used in the treatment of chronic sinusitis. For example, nasal corticosteroids are sprayed directly into the nose and can be used to prevent and treat inflammation while saline nasal irrigation can help if your sinusitis is the result of allergies. Oral or injected corticosteroids will ease the inflammation of chronic sinusitis and if your infection is the result of fungi then an antifungal treatment will be used. There are also medications for specific causes, such as anti-allergy medication if an allergen is to blame or an injection to help reduce the size of nasal polyps.
- Antibiotics. If your chronic sinusitis is being caused by bacteria then antibiotics may be prescribed.
- Immunotherapy. This type of treatment is used for chronic sinusitis where allergies are the trigger. It can help to reduce the reaction your body has to certain allergens that might be triggering the sinusitis.
- Surgery. If other treatments don’t work then surgery can be a good option to help enlarge a narrow sinus opening so that it is not so likely to get blocked.
Chronic sinusitis can be painful and challenging to live with. Once you have a diagnosis there are a range of treatments that can make a difference.
Harley Street is the UK's foremost private medical centre which is dedicated to providing high-quality care for your ear, nose, throat, head & neck, and balance-related disorders. Find out more information on how Harley Street ENT can help you here.