How Do I Know I Have Chronic Sinusitis?

As a first year medical student, cancer and HIV/AIDS are two common illnesses that I without a doubt will encounter in my line of work. However, not many people know about chronic rhinosinusitis, or simply known as chronic sinusitis, which also affects many people. Each year, 37 million Americans are faced with combating a case of sinusitis, the fifth most common disease treated with antibiotics [1,2].

What exactly is chronic sinusitis? It is an inflammation of the tissue in our sinuses, the cavities around our eyes, nose, cheeks, and forehead. Usually they are full of air but due to various causes these spaces become filled with viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

So how do you know you have chronic sinusitis? Symptoms include the following:

  • Pain, swelling, and tenderness around the eyes, nose, cheeks, and forehead
  • A greenish or yellow discharge from the nose
  • Nasal blockage or obstruction causing difficulty breathing
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste

Other symptoms also involved with other systems of the body include fever, bad breath, dental and upper jaw pain, fatigue, irritability, nausea, and ear pain. Acute sinusitis and chronic sinusitis share similar symptoms, however chronic sinusitis differs from acute sinusitis as its symptoms last longer – roughly 8 weeks or more [3].

Who does chronic sinusitis affect? It does not discriminate against age or gender and anyone can get it. However there are certain risk factors that can predispose you to chronic sinusitis. If you suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, allergies,  hay fever, or gastroesophageal disease, your risk of sinusitis is increased. Smoking is terrible for you in many ways including predisposing you to chronic sinusitis. However what is surprising is 1 in 5 people with chronic sinusitis also have asthma, suggesting that the same pathogens may be involved [4].

Currently medication is used to treat chronic sinusitis and in cases where this doesn’t work, surgery may be required. It is estimated that up to 15% of sinus surgeries fail to resolve in a positive post-treatment outcome. But never fear, photodosinfection is here! As a budding doctor I see a wonderful opportunity for photodisinfection technology as demonstrated by the success of it being used to reduce 39% of surgical site infections at Vancouver General Hospital. Hopefully when I am out of medical school I will have the chance to use this innovative technology in my own practice in the fight against chronic sinusitis.

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2 Responses to “How Do I Know I Have Chronic Sinusitis?”

  1. Tina Wittmann says:

    So informative! Thanks for the excellent information!

  2. Its very helpful information.Thanks for sharing.

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