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Causes of Chronic Sinusitis

Causes of Chronic Sinusitis

Virtually everyone knows the feeling of head pressure, runny nose, and congestion that accompanies upper respiratory infections like cold and flu, symptoms known as sinusitis. You feel quite sick for a few days, then start to recover over the next week. 

For those with chronic sinusitis, symptoms last for three months or longer. As sinusitis specialists, we at Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates can help you when you’re stricken with this long-lasting inflammation of the airways and sinuses. 

Together, we determine the cause of your chronic sinusitis as well as a treatment plan to have you breathing easier as soon as possible. 

Causes of chronic sinusitis

Chronic cases of sinusitis can be triggered by the same respiratory infections that cause the acute version of the condition, which typically lasts a couple weeks. Usually, other factors are at play that convert the symptoms to chronic status. 


Depending on your sensitivities and the allergens involved, your chronic sinusitis may stem from the respiratory response to allergies. Unlike a virally driven infection, an allergy could be behind long-term inflammation of the sinuses and nasal passages. You may need treatment for your allergies to get sinusitis under control. 

Deviated septum

Sometimes, physical issues can lead to drainage problems that create chronic sinusitis. The wall between the nostrils — called the septum — is rarely perfectly symmetrical. Genetic variations or injuries can interfere with drainage of the sinuses, a critical factor in clearing up sinusitis. 

A deviated septum could combine with other factors to create conditions for continued infection and inflammation. 

Nasal polyps

Another physical impediment to drainage of the nasal passages and sinuses is the development of nasal polyps. These benign tissue growths are soft and painless, but they can be large enough to block drainage while prolonging your sinusitis symptoms. 

Nasal polyps stem from chronic inflammation of the nasal passages, so they may have a cyclical relationship with your sinusitis condition. 

Medical conditions

Complications from certain medical conditions can create nasal blockages that lead to chronic sinusitis. Conditions like cystic fibrosis and other autoimmune diseases like HIV are common culprits. 

As well as these direct causes, you may have other risk factors that increase your chances for developing chronic sinusitis. These factors include: 

While rare, complications can arise from untreated chronic sinusitis. These include infections that spread to other parts of the body, including the eye socket, which can interfere with your vision or cause blindness. 

Treating physical problems contributing to sinusitis can help to clear up chronic inflammation. This can include both surgical procedures or less invasive treatments, depending on the conditions in your body. 

Learn more in consultation with one of our head and neck specialists at the most convenient location of Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates in Lawrence or Ottawa. We’ll develop the best treatment plan for you. Call today to book your appointment. 


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