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Treating Chronic Sinusitis

The sinuses are hollow areas formed by the bones of the face. Sinuses make and drain mucus. This keeps the nasal passages clean and moist. When the sinuses become inflamed (swollen) or infected, the condition is called sinusitis. Symptoms may include facial pain and pressure. Headache and nasal congestion may also occur. With chronic sinusitis, treatment has been tried. But the problem won’t go away or keeps coming back.

Ongoing prevention

It’s important to treat the cause of a sinus problem. If you have allergies, talk with your doctor about treatment. If you’re exposed to nasal irritants (such as sawdust), use a filter mask. If you smoke, ask your doctor for help with quitting or cutting down. Smoke irritates the sinuses and can make your sinus problem worse.


In most cases, the doctor will start with medication. You may have tried medication in the past. It may not have helped, or it may not have kept the problem from coming back. A new medication may help this time. The new medication may be nased on culture results to direct the antibiotic against bacteria causing the problem. Or taking medication for a longer time may be tried. Your doctor will discuss your options with you. If you have allergies, allergy injections may be suggested. These lessen your reaction to substances that cause irritation. If your symptoms still do not improve, you may need further evaluation. This may include a CT (computed tomography) scan of the sinuses.


If other treatments don’t solve the problem, surgery may be recommended. The type of surgery depends on the cause of your sinusitis. It also depends on which sinuses are involved. Your doctor will tell you more about your options. The types of surgery include:

  • Endoscopic surgery. This is often used to clear blockages. The sinuses can then heal on their own. During the surgery, the doctor uses a thin, lighted tube (endoscope). The endoscope is put into the nose. It lets the doctor see into the sinuses. This surgery can be done without incisions on the face.

  • Open surgery. This is often used to clean out a sinus lining that is very damaged. It lets the doctor reach areas that an endoscope may not reach.


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