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Chronic Rhinosinusitis, Its Causes, and How It’s Treated


Within the front of the skull can be found the sinuses. The purpose of these open air pockets is still open for debate. It is largely believed that their primary purpose is to protect the brain from trauma. Within these hollows can be found a layer of tissue that produces mucus. The purpose of mucus is to eliminate dirt and germs and to keep the area moist and healthy. Rhinosinusitis occurs when this lining becomes infected or experiences irritation. When this occurs, the tissue can become swollen or will produce additional mucus to attempt to eliminate the problem. When this condition endures for a period of greater than 12 weeks, it’s called chronic rhinosinusitis.

Chronic Rhinosinusitis, Its Causes, and How It’s Treated

Rhinosinusitis is a condition that occurs fairly frequently and is often identified as the common cold. This condition often passes quickly, generally within a few days. It may be considered chronic rhinosinusitis when it persists for more than twelve weeks. To receive this classification, the sufferer must also experience two of the following symptoms:

  • Congestion
  • Discharge from the nose or post-nasal drip
  • A feeling of fullness or facial pain
  • Impaired sense of smell

In addition to these requirements, treatment must also have been attempted during this period. When these criteria are met, it’s time to attempt a different approach to treatment. It’s common for patients and physicians alike to brush this condition aside when the symptoms aren’t severe. One sign that it may be chronic rhinosinusitis is receiving treatment for the acute form twice within the same year.

One notable difference between acute rhinosinusitis (short-term) and chronic rhinosinusitis is the underlying causes. Acute rhinosinusitis is generally caused by infection or environmental irritation. Chronic cases may include infection, and infection may serve to increase its severity. However, the persistence of the condition indicates that there are other underlying causes. 

  • Chronic Rhinosinusitis Without Nasal Polyposis – This form is the most frequently encountered variety. The symptoms of this condition are often allergies, environmental contaminants, and infection. The cause can vary from patient to patient.
  • Chronic Rhinosinusitis With Nasal Polyposis – In some patients, it’s possible that they’re developing an abnormal growth within their nose and/or sinus. These are known as nasal polyps. These polyps can become so numerous and large that the sinuses become clogged. These cases are often treated with surgery or medication.
  • Chronic Rhinosinusitis With Fungal Allergy – A reaction to airborne fungal spores causes this form of rhinosinusitis. The majority of people display no reaction to the presence of most types of fungal spores. The mucus membranes within the sinuses become irritated due to an allergy to these fungi.

These three forms are the most commonly encountered and diagnosed.

Speak To Your Allergy Specialist About Chronic Rhinosinusitis

Those suffering from symptoms described above should speak to their allergy specialist. Communicating with them may reveal underlying causes and can be the first step towards getting meaningful relief.


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