Chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis have similar signs and symptoms. Find out how to distinguish them.
The term “sinusitis” is often used to describe various nasal and sinus symptoms. It can occur in both children and adults, and significantly affect quality of life. There is a considerable physical and economic burden resulting from diagnostic tests, medical and surgical therapies, reduced school and work productivity, and direct impact on physical health.
Acute sinusitis usually occurs after you catch a cold and typically resolves within 1-3 weeks. Chronic sinusitis, on the other hand, may develop abruptly as an acute sinusitis that fails to resolve, or develop slowly and insidiously over months to years.
Both may include the following symptoms:
• Stuffy nose or nasal congestion
• Runny nose or rhinorrhea
• Mucous that drains down the back of the throat or post nasal drip
• Pain, pressure or a feeling of facial fullness
• Decrease or loss of smell
Some people are more likely to develop chronic sinusitis then others. Risk factors include: allergies to mold, dust mites, pollen and animal dander; an injury or deformity of the nose that makes is hard to drain mucous normally; nasal polyps; and problems with your body’s immune system. Checking the immune system is important in severe, persistent and unusual symptoms.
There are three main subtypes of chronic sinusitis. These include chronic sinusitis with nasal polyposis, chronic sinusitis without nasal polyposis, and allergic fungal sinusitis. Nasal polyps are typically benign translucent, yellowish-white masses filled with inflammatory fluid. These polyps may cause obstruction of the nasal cavity and lead to loss of smell or taste. A small percentage of people with nasal polyps are also allergic to aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.
Several people try treatment with antibiotics, allergy medications and/or surgery, only to find they continue to have recurrent or chronic symptoms.
Proper diagnosis, testing and treatment can lead to better outcomes, reduced medical costs and increased quality of life. If you continue to experience sinus symptoms, your Allergy Partner Provider is ready to develop an effect diagnostic and treatment plan just for you.
Michael Martucci, MD
Allergy Partners of Northern Colorado