Runny nose: why chronic sinus infections may be the cause

If you have a hard time tasting and smelling your cup of coffee every morning, chronic sinusitis may be a possible cause. The good news is that chronic sinusitis can be well managed and treated to significantly improve your quality of life. If you are ready to adhere to the treatment plan of an experienced sinus specialist, you will be able to keep your nasal and sinus concerns at bay.

Dr Annabelle Leong is an experienced ENT specialist in the UK who has extensive knowledge and experience in managing chronic sinusitis cases. She will be able to help you with a flexible treatment plan that fits your schedule. If you are in Singapore, you can conveniently make an appointment with her at the Otolaryngology Clinic.

Singapore has a high presence of different forms of sinusitis cases, from acute to recurrent sinusitis. Addressing chronic sinusitis is important to avoid complications. Occasionally, chronic sinusitis can result in eye infections, meningitis, or even worsening of a pre-existing asthma condition.

What exactly is chronic sinusitis?

Sinusitis is when the sinuses or cavities around the nasal passage become inflamed, interfering with nasal drainage and causing a build-up of mucus in the sinuses and nasal passage. Although both acute and chronic sinusitis have similar symptoms, acute sinusitis is a temporary problem that could be due to an upper respiratory infection and clears up in a week or two. However, in the case of chronic sinusitis, the sinuses remain swollen for longer and sinusitis can be present for more than three months, even with treatment.

How can chronic sinusitis be identified?

The most commonly observed signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis include tenderness in the facial areas of the forehead and nose, a thick green or yellow nasal discharge, a blocked nose, headaches, earache, loss of sense of taste and smell, bad breath and fatigue. The combination of these symptoms and the long-term nature of the condition makes chronic sinusitis uncomfortable to manage.

How does an otolaryngologist diagnose chronic sinusitis?

An ENT doctor would perform a nasoendoscopic exam in which a small camera is inserted to view the nasal passages. This would help study the sinus drainage pathways and allow the ENT doctor to know if there is a pus-like discharge. The procedure is not painful, but it can be uncomfortable. If sinusitis persists, your ENT doctor will send a sample of the nasal discharge to the laboratory to identify the bacteria that cause it. Laboratory tests would reveal the types of bacteria present and the doctor will prescribe the necessary dose of antibiotic. Further details can be evaluated through a CT scan or MRI to study any structural deformities, such as a deviated nasal septum or the presence of nasal polyps. In rare cases, a biopsy may be done to study the sample under a microscope.

What are the treatment options for chronic sinusitis?

Your doctor will start a course of antibiotics if your sinusitis is caused by bacteria. Intranasal corticosteroids and leukotriene antagonists help reduce inflammation, while underlying allergic conditions must be controlled with antihistamines. When drug treatment is not enough to address the problem, especially in cases of nasal obstruction, functional endoscopic sinus surgery may be needed. Most sinus surgeries are performed through the nose to relieve chronic sinus congestion without causing facial scarring.

How can I manage chronic sinusitis?

It is important to manage your underlying asthma and allergy conditions by avoiding allergens like mold and smoke. Keep your home and work environment as clean as possible. If you are a smoker, it is time to quit. Nasal irrigation with saline water can help relieve symptoms. Living a balanced life with the right foods and regular exercise will keep your immunity levels high and help fight the spread of sinusitis.

When to seek emergency assistance for chronic sinusitis?

Urgent care is needed if you have trouble breathing or experience worsening of symptoms. Also, blurred vision, headaches with a high fever, puffy eyes, and a stiff neck require urgent intervention. Ideally, you should visit an otolaryngologist if you have severe pain and nasal discomfort that last for more than a week or two.

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