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What causes chronic sinus infections, and how to prevent them?

February 27, 2023

What causes chronic sinus infections, and how to prevent them?

Chronic sinusitis is a severe condition after acute sinusitis. Sinusitis means inflammation and infection in the sinus. Chronic sinusitis lasts for more than 12 weeks and is caused by either infection, nasal polyps or swelling of sinus linings. Both adults and children can be infected by chronic sinusitis. To avoid chronic sinusitis, it is necessary to use humidifiers and prevent yourselves from contracting respiratory tract infections.

What is sinus?

The sinus is the cavity or space between the eyes, on the forehead, and behind the cheekbones. It is responsible for forming mucus to moisturise the nose, thus protecting against dust and allergens. Mucus is a part of the drainage system that prevents infections in the body. When the sinus is not infected, it is only filled with water. After infection or blockage, it is filled with the fluid that acts as a surface for the growth of germs.

Causes of chronic sinusitis infections

Apart from blocked nasal passages, many reasons cause chronic sinusitis like:

  • Respiratory tract infections: After the infection of the respiratory tract, the sinus membrane thickens. Thus, mucus drainage is blocked, and this accumulated mucus acts as a region for the growth of more pathogens.
  • Allergens: Allergies towards various allergens can block the sinuses.
  • Nasal polyps: The unchecked growth of nasal tissues can block the sinus, resulting in chronic sinusitis.
  • Deviated nasal septum: Nasal septum is the wall separating the nostrils. If it deviates, it can restrict the sinus passage.
  • Weak immune system: It promotes more infections in the body.
  • Blocked nasal passage: Sometimes, asthma or chronic fibrosis can block the nasal passage, causing chronic sinusitis.

Symptoms of sinus Infection

Regular nasal congestion, inflammation, and headache are common symptoms in individuals suffering from chronic sinusitis. Usually, these symptoms last for nearly 12 weeks. In many individuals, acute sinusitis results in chronic sinusitis. Other symptoms in the individuals are:

  • Thick discoloured nasal discharge
  • Blocked nose (nasal congestion) and difficulty in breathing
  • Nasal inflammation
  • Postnasal drainage - drainage to the back of the throat
  • Pus in the nasal cavity
  • Lesser smell and taste sense
  • Pain and swelling on the face (around eyes, cheeks, forehead) and in the upper jaw and teeth
  • Sore throat or cough
  • Headache
  • Bad breath

When to see a doctor for sinus Infection?

You must schedule an appointment with the doctor if you have suffered multiple times from acute sinusitis or when the symptoms remain for more than a week with no effect of medications on your condition. It's necessary to see a doctor immediately if you have prolonged fever, severe headache, blurry vision or swelling around your eyes.

Complications in sinus infection

In some cases, chronic sinusitis can result in other complications like vision problems (if the sinus infection spreads to the eye socket), or inflammation of fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Prevention of sinus Infection 

The best way to prevent chronic sinusitis is to keep a check on the causative agents, like allergens or pollutants. Various preventive measures include

  • Avoid respiratory tract infections - This will reduce your direct contact with infected people, thus restricting the entry of pathogens inside your respiratory tract.
  • Use humidifiers - They help to humidify and clean the air thoroughly, thus reducing the risks of respiratory tract infections.
  • Neti-pot - It cleanses the nasal passage thoroughly with the help of the salt solution.
  • Control of allergies - Try to stay away from the allergens like dust, pollen, or smoke that can result in swelling of the sinus.
  • Quit smoking - Smoke from tobacco through smoking or passive smoking causes irritation and inflammation of the lungs.
  • Sanitization - Wash your hands regularly, especially during monsoon, to avoid infections.


Although various factors can lead to chronic sinusitis in people, it is necessary to be aware and contact the doctors soon. If treated on time, some causes like allergies or colds will not lead to sinusitis. Avoid smoking or passive smoking to prevent yourself from chronic sinusitis.

If you have any queries about the causes or preventing measures regarding chronic sinusitis, contact a doctor to get professional medical advice.

Request an appointment at Apollo Spectra Hospitals. Call 1860 500 2244 to book an appointment.

Who is at more risk of suffering from chronic sinusitis?

A person with nasal polyps and drainage duct is at more risk of suffering from chronic sinusitis. Sometimes allergies, asthma, environmental pollutants, infections, immune system disorders, and deviated nasal septum can also result in chronic sinusitis.

What can happen if chronic sinusitis is not treated on time?

In some individuals, if chronic sinusitis is not treated on time, in rare conditions, it can result in infection of the bone, brain abscess, or meningitis.

How can I diagnose chronic sinusitis?

Endoscopy, CT scan, MRI, or biopsy are some ways to identify chronic sinusitis.

Is there any way to treat chronic sinusitis?

There are many ways to treat chronic sinusitis, like balloon sinus ostial dilation or surgical correction of the deviated nasal septum.

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