Sinusitis (Sinus Infection) Causes

Chronic Sinusitis Causes

Chronic sinusitis is diagnosed when a person has had symptoms for 12 weeks or longer, despite medical treatment. The exact cause of chronic sinusitis is not known.
 
Researchers do know that certain things increase the likelihood of long-term inflammation and swelling of the sinuses and nasal passages, and the inability for the sinuses to drain properly. People at risk for chronic sinusitis include those with:
 
  • Allergies (in particular, people with perennial or year-round allergies)
     
  • Asthma
     
  • A sensitivity to aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
     
  • Nonallergic 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.
 

Do Bacteria Cause Chronic Sinusitis?

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. But bacteria do play a role. This is why treatment often involves antibiotics, although not in the same way that it used to.
 
Different bacteria than those causing acute sinusitis are typically seen in people with chronic sinusitis. Some common types include:
 
In certain people with a decreased immune system, fungus also can cause both acute and chronic sinusitis. Symptoms tend to be a lot more severe than the typical sinus infection caused by a virus or bacteria (see Fungal Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)).
 
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Sinusitis (Sinus Infection) Information

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