Chronic Sinusitis

What Causes It and Who Is At Risk?

Healthcare providers once believed that bacteria were the main cause of a chronic sinus infection. What they have come to learn, however, is that it is a lot more complex than just a simple infection. Researchers continue to look for the exact cause or causes of chronic sinusitis.
Researchers do know that certain things increase the likelihood for long-term inflammation and swelling of the sinus and nasal passages, and the inability for the sinuses to drain properly.
People at risk for chronic sinusitis include those with:
  • Allergies (more common in people with perennial or year-round allergies)
  • Asthma
  • A sensitivity to aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Non-allergic rhinitis
  • A weakened immune system, such as in people with:
    • HIV or AIDS
    • Diabetes
    • Low blood counts because of chemotherapy
    • An organ transplant
Those people who have had more than one sinus surgery or who actively smoke are also at increased risk for developing chronic sinusitis.

Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis

The four classic signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis include:
  • Mucus- or pus-like nasal drainage and/or postnasal drip
  • Pain, pressure, or fullness in the face or head
  • Nasal congestion
  • Decreased ability to smell.
Most people diagnosed with chronic sinusitis have at least two out of these four symptoms.
(Click Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis to learn more about these symptoms.) 
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