Fortunately, if you feel like you’ve tried everything, there are several solutions that can treat chronic sinusitis permanently.
Read on to find out how to treat chronic sinus infections.
Doctors will try to treat sinusitis with conservative measures whenever possible. This means they must first determine the underlying cause of your chronic sinus infections.
To diagnose your condition, a doctor will:
- listen to your symptoms
- conduct testing, including using a special tool to look up your nose and into your sinus passages
- collect imaging
- potentially perform other tests to determine a cause
Once a doctor has diagnosed what’s causing your chronic sinus infections, their goal will be to:
- treat the underlying cause (or causes)
- reduce inflammation that keeps your sinus passages from draining
They usually accomplish this by:
- thinning nasal secretions
- prescribing corticosteroids
Ideally, doctors can prescribe medical therapies that clear up chronic sinusitis symptoms and keep them from coming back.
Depending on the underlying cause, medical therapies may include:
They reduce swelling so mucus can exit the nose more easily and breathing is enhanced.
Oral corticosteroids are pill medications that work like intranasal steroids. They also have whole-body effects.
Your doctor will usually prescribe short-term oral corticosteroids for chronic infections that don’t respond to antibiotics because oral steroids have more side effects than nasal ones.
These medications work to unblock the sinuses and reduce nasal congestion symptoms. They’re sold as either nasal sprays or oral medications. Examples include nasal Afrin or Sudafed.
However, you shouldn’t use nasal decongestant sprays for more than a few days. They can have a reverse effect if you use them for too long.
Saline irrigation is a simple method. It’s a low-cost way to thin nasal secretions. Thinner secretions exit the nasal passages more easily, reducing chronic sinusitis symptoms.
You can purchase saline nose sprays at most pharmacies.
Your doctor will perform a special test to obtain cells from inside your nasal passages. This is more than just a nasal swab.
Your doctor will likely send this sample to a laboratory to determine the type of pathogen that has infiltrated your nasal passages. They can then prescribe the right antibiotics to treat your symptoms.
Some people with chronic sinusitis have the condition as a result of immunodeficiency-related conditions. Examples include IgA deficiency and C4 deficiency.
Treatment may include prescribing immunotherapy treatments like intravenous immunoglobulins to enhance the body’s ability to fight infection and inflammation.
According to an article in the journal American Family Physician, most doctors think chronic sinusitis is an inflammatory condition.
That’s why they often prescribe anti-inflammatory medications, such as corticosteroids.
If medical therapies don’t clear up chronic sinusitis, your doctor will usually recommend surgery.
Several surgical approaches can enlarge the sinus cavities to make breathing and drainage easier. In the past, sinus surgeries required bone and tissue removal. Recent advancements mean this isn’t the case.
Doctors have used balloon sinuplasty as a surgical approach in the United States since 2004.
Your surgeon will insert a small, balloon-tipped catheter into the sinus passages. Under imaging guidance, they ensure the catheter is in the right location and slowly inflates the balloon.
The balloon inflation widens your sinus passages. Once this is complete, your doctor deflates the balloon and removes the catheter.
Because your doctor doesn’t have to cut out any tissue, your recovery time is usually shorter with balloon sinuplasty.
However, not all people with chronic sinusitis are good candidates for the procedure. If cysts or polyps are also blocking your sinus passages, you may not be a good candidate.
Functional Endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS)
Functional endoscopic sinus surgery or FESS is another approach your doctor may recommend to treat chronic sinusitis.
An ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon will use a special tool with a lighted camera on the end to visualize the inside of your nose.
They will then use small instruments to remove excess tissue, nasal polyps, or nasal cysts to widen your sinuses.
If you choose to have sinus surgery, you’ll still need to use medical therapies to reduce your symptoms and prevent chronic sinusitis from coming back.
Natural remedies for sinus infections may not fully cure your symptoms, but they can work to reduce them. Examples of these approaches include:
- Drinking plenty of fluids. Fluids help to thin out mucus, which makes it easier to pass through your sinus passages. You know you’re drinking enough when your urine is pale yellow.
- Applying warm compresses. Create a warm compress using a soft washcloth and warm (not hot) water. These compresses help to open your sinus passages and soothe swollen facial tissues to make breathing easier.
- Using a neti pot. A neti pot is an alternative to saline nose sprays. You can buy these at most drugstores and online. They look like a small tea pot with an elongated spout. You fill the pot with sterile water, insert it into one nostril, and pour in the water so it comes out the other nostril. Here are step-by-step instructions.
In addition to these measures, it’s important to get plenty of rest. Getting enough sleep at night enables your body time to heal and maintain a healthy immune system.
Taking steps to keep your nasal passages draining well can help you avoid sinus infections. Examples of healthy habits to practice include:
- Wash your hands regularly, especially after coming in contact with others who have colds or other illnesses.
- Take medications to control your seasonal allergies. Examples include over-the-counter allergy medications, such as loratadine (Claritin) or cetirizine (Zyrtec).
- Refrain from smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke whenever possible.
- Perform nasal irrigation once daily if you’re prone to chronic sinus infections.
- Avoid exposure to dry air. You may inhale steam (such as in a shower) or use humidifiers to keep your air moist. This prevents your nasal passages from drying out.
You can also ask your doctor for additional prevention recommendations that target the cause (or causes) of your sinus infection.
Chronic sinusitis can affect your quality of life. Fortunately — through medical therapies and sometimes surgery — most people can find relief from their symptoms. Here’s to breathing easier!