How long have you been living with chronic sinus issues? The symptoms can feel unbearable: congestion, sinus pressure, headaches, pain, and more.
Even though sinus symptoms have become a part of your everyday life, it doesn’t mean that you need to continue living with this condition. Treatment options are available, so it’s time to schedule a consultation with an experienced ENT for a diagnosis and personalized care plan.
The Difference Between Acute and Chronic Sinus Conditions
Often, a sinus infection is acute. The symptoms start fast and are intense, causing discomfort and a myriad of symptoms. Usually, acute sinus episodes are secondary infections triggered by a head cold or allergies.
The symptoms of an acute sinus condition will “run their course” and go away within a few days to a week. However, if the underlying cause is a bacterial infection, your doctor might prescribe an antibiotic to help the infection clear up more quickly.
On the other hand, chronic sinusitis doesn’t go away. It lasts for weeks or months, leaving you miserable and congested no matter what you do. If you are suffering from chronic sinusitis, you might wonder if there’s a cure available.
What Is Happening with Chronic Sinusitis?
When a patient has chronic sinusitis, it means there is inflammation and swelling within the sinuses (located in the head and nose area). Even with treatment, the inflammation continues for months.
When the nasal passages and sinuses are inflamed, it affects the way mucus drains. Usually, the mucus should be able to move out of the nose. But if you have inflammation, then it causes the nose to be stuffy, and the mucus can’t drain.
The drainage issues are not only uncomfortable, but they create the ideal environment for the development of a secondary infection. In addition, bacterial growth might cause the symptoms to get worse.
How Do I Know If I Have Chronic Sinusitis?
Here are a few indications that you might be suffering from a chronic condition affecting your sinuses:
- Congestion, feeling like the nose is stuffy or blocked
- Runny nose with a discolored, thick discharge coming from the nose
- Postnasal drip
- Problems breathing through the nose
- Tenderness, pain, and swelling around the eyes, forehead, cheeks, or nose
- Decreased sense of taste and smell
- Pressure and pain in the face that increases when leaning over
- Symptoms that last for 12 weeks or more
If you can relate to any of the symptoms above, then the best thing you can do is schedule an appointment with an ENT. Talking to a specialist can help you get ahead of the infection and return to a normal way of living once again.
Why See an ENT for Chronic Sinusitis?
A general physician (such as a primary care doctor) has a wide range of knowledge about many health conditions. But they don’t specialize in anything specific. Your PCP can be a good resource for an acute infection, but they will often refer you to a specialist if you are experiencing ongoing symptoms.
In the case of chronic sinusitis, you will be better off talking to an ENT about your condition. ENTs have years of experience focusing specifically on the sinuses.
Since chronic sinusitis isn’t usually a straightforward, typical infection, it’s best to talk to a specialist. These long-lasting infections don’t typically respond as well to simple, traditional treatments (like antibiotics).
Treating Multifactorial Chronic Sinusitis
In most situations, chronic sinusitis can be classified as a “multifactorial” condition, which means there are likely multiple problems contributing to the condition. For example, you might deal with anatomical problems, inflammatory issues, allergies, polyps, etc.
An ENT looks at the broad spectrum to identify the underlying causes. Then, the treatment plan is carefully designed to address these issues.
Not only will your ENT work to help you find immediate relief from the pain and symptoms, but the goal is to create conditions for long-lasting results.
What to Expect: Talking to an ENT About Chronic Sinusitis
When you schedule an ENT appointment to discuss your chronic sinusitis, there are several things you can expect during the appointment. First, the doctor will want to know everything about your health history:
- Specific symptom descriptions
- How long you’ve been experiencing the symptoms
- Lifestyle factors that aggravate the condition
- Other medical concerns
- And more
Even if the information seems unrelated, it’s important to share a complete history so the doctor can see the bigger picture.
Then, the ENT will move forward with a diagnostic work-up, usually involving testing to evaluate for inflammation and anatomical issues. Standard tests for chronic sinusitis include allergy testing, an endoscopy, CT scans, and even a culture sample to determine if bacteria or fungus is causing the infection.
Treating Sinusitis Starting with the Root Condition
You can do different things to manage the symptoms of chronic sinusitis, but these only provide temporary relief. For example, medications such as decongestants might help you feel better for a few hours, but the symptoms will return when the drug wears off.
When working with an ENT specialist, the treatment plan focuses specifically on addressing the root issue, which will naturally clear up the symptoms. For example, the allergy management plan is a critical part of your treatment if you have seasonal allergies.
The goal is to start with minimally-invasive treatments first. After that, medications and basic treatments often help to clear up the problems. But if the symptoms continue and you aren’t finding relief, the ENT doctor might recommend sinus surgery.
When Do You Need to Talk to an ENT?
If you have frequent sinus infections and aren’t finding relief from general treatments that your primary care physician recommends, then it’s time to schedule a consultation with an ENT. Sinus conditions that don’t respond to basic treatment are often categorized as chronic sinusitis.
Additionally, call an ENT right away if you notice that the symptoms seem to be getting worse. You should start feeling relief from the symptoms within 7 – 10 days with an acute sinus infection.
You shouldn’t delay a visit with an ENT when there are signs of a serious infection. These symptoms could indicate that you need immediate treatment:
- Vision changes
- Double vision
- Stiff neck
- Swelling in the forehead area
- Severe headache
- Swelling around the eyes
Our team is here to assist with everything from chronic sinusitis to ear infections and more. If you are searching for an ENT in Collin County or Dallas, make a call to Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat. We offer office locations in both Plano and Frisco, TX. You can complete the online form when you are ready to schedule a meeting or call us to discuss treatment options: (972) 596-4005.