What is the relationship of asthma to sinusitis?

About 70% of people with chronic sinusitis have asthma as well, but it doesn't necessarily have to debilitate you. It has been found that about 15% of Olympic athletes have asthma.

Will I get more sinus infections in the future?

Once your sinus infection has been treated, it is important to try to prevent future sinus infections, but they often occur. It is important to provide adequate treatment of colds and allergies in order to try to prevent blockage of the sinuses. We commonly suggest that people start many of the medications, with the exception of antibiotics, at the first sign of development of cold symptoms. You should talk with your doctor about that possibility. The more frequently that sinus infections occur, the more li...

Can sinus problems be due to an immune deficiency?

It is unusual, but sometimes sinus infections are caused by immune problems. In patients who have persistent sinus infections, it is important to have the immune system evaluated by an allergist/immunologist, especially before surgery is done. You may need to have allergy tests done, as well as tests done to make sure that you can form antibodies normally to common bacteria. Rarely, it can be due to AIDS, but don't jump to conclusions: 99.9% of people with sinusitis don't have AIDS.

What other problems happen as a result of sinusitis?

I have seen patients with problems like hives which wouldn't get better, they had no other symptoms. The hives got better immediately with treatment of sinusitis. I was amazed. Sinus problems may also cause all kinds of allergies to worsen (it seems that sinusitis turns on the immune system) and can cause problems with asthma, intestinal symptoms, and a wide variety of other medical problems. I have had patients who have toothaches and have numerous dental procedures to no avail. "Migraines" are an especial...

What if the surgery doesn’t help for sinus surgery ?

First, be patient, recovery from surgery takes weeks (occasionally months). If you aren't better at that point then there are many possibilities including allergies, immune problems, fungal infection of the sinuses, scarring from the original surgery, sinusitis involving sinuses other than those originally operated on, etc. If you have these kinds of problems, it is critical that you see someone who is well experienced with medical treatment of patients after surgery.

How is treatment different after surgery?

It doesn't mean that you won't get sinusitis any more, but it is often easier to treat. Surgery is not meant to cure the disease. Once the sinuses have been opened up by surgery, it is possible to wash out the sinuses if necessary , and as a result, sometimes oral antibiotics don't have to be used. It is often possible to do an endoscopy and find out exactly where the cause of the problem is, since it is possible to examine the inside of the sinuses once surgery has been done. Elsewhere on this website, the...

How long is the recovery after surgery?

Generally, patients will remain in the hospital just for the day of the operation, but sometimes overnight. Patients are usually out of work for 1-2 weeks. Full recovery may take six weeks, although for periods of six months to a year patients may become more sensitive to infection. The surgeon will typically remove crusting on a regular basis from the nose to prevent scarring from occurring. Packing is often not placed nowadays, so that the removal of crusting isn't usually that uncomfortable. There will b...

What is done if I have to have sinus surgery?

You should first understand that I am not a surgeon, so this is from the perspective of someone who has seen the surgery, and had the surgery done, but who doesn't do the surgery himself. The surgery, called functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS), may be done either under local anesthesia or general anesthesia. Many very experienced sinus surgeons prefer to use local anesthesia. The operation generally takes approximately 2-3 hours. During that period of time, the ear, nose and throat doctor will do any...

When should surgery be considered?

A small percentage of patients with chronic sinusitis will fail to improve even with the best medical treatment. In most studies of patients treated by allergists who specialize in treatment of chronic sinusitis, this is less than 10% of patients who have had optimal medical treatment. It is important to realize, however, that surgery is frequently performed on patients who have not had the best medical treatment prior to surgery. This web site is one of many attempts to educate physicians and the public ab...

What role do food allergies play in sinusitis

The effects of food allergies in treatment of sinus infections are very controversial. This is something that the patient needs to discuss with an allergist well acquainted with treatment of sinusitis. Briefly, food allergies are much more common in children than in adults and can sometimes cause problems with sinusitis, but much less commonly than environmental agents like dust, molds, pollen, animals and believe it or not: cockroaches. Milk may cause problems in some patients, but probably less than 15% o...

Do allergy shots help with sinus infections?

In patients who have chronic sinus infections, I think it makes sense to do  anything  to avoid worsening of symptoms or surgery. If we find a patient is allergic and has chronic sinusitis, we often suggest getting allergy shots to desensitize them to the various things to which they are allergic, in the hope that it will help with the sinusitis. Because allergy shots take 6-24 months to work, they must be used in conjunction with other treatment, including controlling exposure to environmental agents.

What role do allergies play in sinusitis?

Many patients with chronic sinusitis have allergies which may partially complicate sinusitis. Allergies cause swelling and blockage of the tiny holes which allow drainage of mucus from the sinuses. In addition, the allergies may cause swelling inside the sinuses and inside the nose. It is critical that patients with allergies control their environment in order to control their sinusitis. Because so many patients with sinusitis have allergies, we have included a section on allergies later in this website as ...

What effect do nasal polyps have on sinus problems?

Nasal polyps are not true polyps but rather are probably caused by inflammation in the nose. They look like peeled grapes but are basically fluid-filled sacs. They can be found anywhere in the sinuses or nose and commonly are associated with sinus infections. They can cause a blockage of the drainage holes (ostia) from the sinuses, causing a back-up of mucus in the sinuses. Nasal polyps are often associated with asthma and can be made worse in some people by ingesting aspirin or related drugs. Treatment inv...

What kind of effects do tobacco smoke and other irritants have on the sinuses?

Tobacco smoke and various other irritants may cause worsening of symptoms. Those irritants include auto exhaust, gasoline fumes, paint fumes, perfume, roach spray and household chemicals such as bleach, etc. Cigarette smoke paralyzes the tiny hairs (cilia) which move mucus out of the sinuses. It also causes irritation and inflammation in the nose and respiratory tract. There is no good way to effectively treat these exposures, and as a result they must be avoided. Sometimes using an air filter will be helpf...

What role does a deviated septum play in sinusitis?

The septum is the bone and cartilage which separates the two sides of the nose. A deviated septum is simply a crooked septum. A deviated septum commonly can cause or exacerbate chronic sinusitis by causing a blockage of the nose and also of the drainage area from the sinuses. Most people have a somewhat deviated septum. Just because your septum is deviated, it doesn't mean that it is causing a problem-but it does need to be evaluated. There are some patients who have such a severe deviated septum that they ...

Why do I have to keep my nose clear? I can breathe through my mouth.

Believe it or not, your nose is not just a decorative object found on your face, it really has a purpose. It is extremely important to keep the nose clear so it is possible to breath through the nose. It has been found that air exchange into the sinuses occurs twice as rapidly with nasal breathing. The air exchange will reduce the likelihood of bacteria growing in the sinuses.

Can I drink alcohol?

Alcohol very commonly causes worsening of sinusitis, often not so much because of an allergy, but because alcohol functions as a diuretic. It often causes patients to become dehydrated, leading to drying and thickening of the mucus which may, in turn, cause a blockage of the opening of the sinuses and a worsening of the infection. In addition, when patients come home after having several drinks, they often may forget to take their medications and don't turn on their vaporizer leading to worsening of the sin...

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