If you’ve ever had a stuffy head cold, you’re familiar with the feeling of acute sinusitis, a condition where your sinuses become swollen and inflamed. Mucus builds up and drains poorly, and when symptoms persist longer than 12 weeks, you have chronic sinusitis. When your sinusitis interferes with your life, board-certified allergists Bernard Geller, MD, Ph.D., and Sanny Chan, MD, Ph.D. at Allergy and Clinical Immunology Medical Group in Santa Monica, California, can treat your symptoms and test for underlying causes. Call the office or schedule an appointment online to learn more today.
Cavities surrounding your nasal passages are called sinuses, and they normally produce the mucus that coats and moisturizes the inside of your nose, protecting you from dust, dirt, and other pollutants. When the lining of your sinuses become infected, inflamed, and swollen, drainage from the sinuses may be impaired, leading to mucus buildup and the stuffy, clogged feeling that’s familiar to anyone who’s had a cold.
The common cold is an example of acute sinusitis, and symptoms usually resolve within about 10 days. While over-the-counter decongestants and nasal sprays may help, an acute virus typically needs to run its course. Chronic sinusitis is a more serious condition, but depending on the cause, it may also be treatable.
Acute sinusitis usually comes from the common cold virus, though in some cases, this can develop into a bacterial infection. When symptoms persist long beyond the duration of the cold itself, you may have a chronic sinusitis condition. Viral, bacterial, or fungal infections may be the culprits.
Allergies that cause a respiratory reaction, such as hay fever, can also result in chronic sinusitis, though in the case of seasonal allergies, the effects may disappear when the allergen goes out of season. The septum — the dividing wall between your nostrils — may become a problem through physical damage or congenital formation that restricts or blocks sinus passages. Small growths called nasal polyps may also affect proper sinus function.
You may be at increased risk of chronic sinusitis if you’re regularly exposed to pollutants, such as cigarette smoke or industrial chemicals. Some people have a sensitivity to aspirin that can cause respiratory problems. Asthma and immune system disorders may also increase your chances of developing sinusitis.
When your sinusitis stems from a bacterial infection, or if an infection can’t be eliminated as a possible cause, antibiotics may prove effective at clearing up swelling and drainage.
Corticosteroids can reduce inflammation, particularly those intended for nasal use, such as fluticasone, mometasone, and triamcinolone, which are administered as nasal sprays.
Appraise Health Care also offers allergy testing, so the team can pinpoint allergic reactions that may be causing your respiratory condition. Allergy shots may reduce or eliminate the symptoms of chronic sinusitis.