Sinusitis: Understanding the 4 Underlying Causes

The viruses responsible for the common cold create an infection that causes the lining of your sinuses to swell and inflame. 

Though sinuses are normally air-filled, the swelling traps fluid, creating that plugged and achy feeling as well as the seemingly endless supply of mucus that makes you  burn through boxes of tissue. It’s a condition called sinusitis

A cold isn’t the only reason you experience sinus infections, though. When the symptoms are continuing beyond ten days, it is more likely that bacteria have gotten a foothold and an antibiotic may be necessary to clear it. Sinusitis becomes chronic when symptoms last longer than 12 weeks. Chronic sinusitis is more likely related to a structural problem or scarring of the sinus lining so the sinus can’t clear itself.

When you need a sinus specialist, it’s time to visit Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates. When your sinusitis has other causes besides cold viruses, their doctors can pinpoint the reason and recommend treatment options that have you breathing freely. 

The underlying causes of sinusitis

Mucus is a normal part of your respiratory function, and it’s produced by the tissue lining your nasal cavities. Normally, mucus coats the surfaces of your nasal passages and assists in warming and moisturizing the air you breathe in while also trapping allergens, pathogens, and debris. 

When the sinus lining becomes inflamed during a sinusitis infection, mucus is over-produced while the inflammation itself physically restricts the sinuses from draining. The most common symptoms are: 

Though these are all symptoms you might associate with a cold, they occur even when you have sinusitis for non-viral reasons. There are four causes most commonly behind sinusitis symptoms. 

Cold viruses

As we’ve seen, colds and sinusitis are closely connected. Technically, sinusitis is a symptom of a cold, but sinusitis can persist even after the cold virus is no longer active. 

Inflamed and clogged sinuses also provide a safe haven for bacteria. Your sinusitis may start due to a virus and then continue with a bacterial infection. Most people experience sinusitis, though, in conjunction with a cold. 

Allergic reactions

When you have allergies that produce respiratory reactions, your sinuses could become irritated, and sinusitis may develop for the same reasons as with viral or bacterial infections. Again, allergies could start the sinusitis, and another infection might take over. 

Deviated septum

The septum, the piece of cartilage that separates the nostrils, is often not symmetrical. One side is smaller than the other, whether from a congenital defect or as a result of injury. This condition, called a deviated septum, may interfere with normal sinus drainage. 

Nasal polyps

Soft, fleshy growths that can grow on the walls of your nasal passages, polyps aren’t a problem themselves, but like a deviated septum, they can interfere with airflow and sinus drainage. Any restriction to mucus flow can set off the series of events leading to sinusitis. 

Contact Lawrence Otolaryngology Associates if sinusitis persists after a cold or arises for any other reason. You can reach the nearest office, in Lawrence and Ottawa, by phone to arrange your examination. You can help your sinus issues, regardless of their cause. 

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