What is chronic sinusitis?

Chronic sinusitis is a long-lasting sinus infection. The sinuses are four paired cavities (spaces) in the head. These spaces are connected by narrow channels. The sinuses make thin mucus that drains out of the channels of the nose. This drainage works as a filtration system, keeping the nose clean and free of bacteria.

The sinuses can become infected when they are blocked and filled with fluid. This is called sinusitis. There are two types of sinusitis: acute and chronic. Acute sinusitis lasts only a few days before going away with minimal treatment. Chronic sinusitis can linger over a long period of time (typically more than 12 weeks). Surgery is sometimes needed in severe cases of chronic sinusitis.

What causes chronic sinusitis?

Chronic sinusitis can be caused by several factors. These can include:

  • Blocked airways from asthma or allergies
  • An infection
  • A fungus
  • Deviated nasal septum (the nose is shifted to the side, creating a blockage)
  • Polyps (growths)
  • A weak immune system

What are the symptoms of chronic sinusitis?

Symptoms of chronic sinusitis may include:

  • Tenderness or pressure in the face ( particularly around the nose, eyes, and forehead)
  • Post nasal drip (mucus drips down the throat)
  • Nasal discharge (thick yellow or green discharge from nose)
  • Stuffy nose
  • Toothache
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Tiredness
  • Ear pain

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/10/2018.


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