Understanding Chronic Sinusitis

Chronic sinusitis is a sinus infection that lasts more than a couple of months. Sinusitis often resolves on its own within a couple weeks or with a little help from a decongestant, but chronic sinusitis can remain as a constant or worsen over time. There's not always a clear reason for sinusitis turning into a chronic condition, but underlying conditions, such as asthma and allergic rhinitis, are thought to contribute to prolonged or worsened levels of nasal inflammation, and smokers are also considered to be at increased risk of developing chronic sinusitis. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for chronic sinusitis.


In addition to experiencing nasal congestion for more than a couple of months, common symptoms of chronic sinusitis include having a reduced sense of smell, mucus coming from the nose and facial pain or pressure around the nose and forehead. Additionally, some sufferers have a cough and experience lethargy, which may be caused by their body's prolonged attempt at fighting off the infection.

Diagnosis And Treatment Approach

Your GP will diagnose chronic sinusitis by taking details of your symptoms and examining your nose to check for the presence of any abnormality that could be causing congestion, such as a polyp or scar tissue. They may take a sample of nasal discharge to be analysed, which will determine the strain of bacteria present and help them to formulate an effective treatment plan. If your GP has any concerns about the structure of your nose or feels there may be something more serious causing your symptoms, they will refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist for further investigation.

Your GP will recommend a course of treatment based on the severity of your symptoms. Antibiotics are typically required, and your GP will use the results from your mucus swab to prescribe an antibiotic that's effective against the strain of bacteria present. Painkillers can also be prescribed if your facial pain is significant. Your GP may also recommend a steroid nasal spray, which can reduce inflammation and speed up healing. Nasal irrigation is another treatment option, and this involves flushing a saline solution through your nasal passages to clear away mucus and provide relief from congestion. Your doctor will follow up with you after treatment to ensure it's been effective, but with chronic sinusitis, repeated courses of treatment are sometimes required to achieve complete healing.

If you're experiencing a prolonged bout of sinusitis, schedule an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. Prompt treatment can reduce healing time.