Chronic Rhinosinusitis

What is Chronic Rhinosinusitis?

At the Yale Sinus and Allergy Program, we are experts in treating the most persistent sinus conditions. Chronic rhinosinusitis is a condition in which the sinuses surrounding the nasal passage become inflamed, or swollen. Sinus inflammation that does not respond to treatment and lasts 12 weeks or longer is considered chronic rhino sinusitis. 

We understand that the symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis can be frustrating and can interfere with your daily activities, such as working and spending time with your loved ones. Our surgeons offer the latest in treatment so you can get back to your life without the discomfort of chronic rhinosinusitis.

Symptoms of Chronic Rhinosinusitis

Patients with chronic rhinosinusitis tend to have mucus build up because the sinuses do not drain properly. Therefore, it may be difficult to breathe through your nose. 

Other symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis include: 
  • Drainage of a thick, yellow or greenish mucous from the nose or down the back of the throat
  • Pain, tenderness, and swelling around your eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead 
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste
  • Ear pain
  • Aching in your upper jaw and teeth
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Bad breath 
  • Fatigue or irritability
  • Nausea

This list should be used as a guideline. Not every symptom is included. If you have one or more of these symptoms, it does not mean that you have chronic rhinosinusitis. Please contact your doctor if your symptoms persist.

Causes of Chronic Rhinosinusitis

Chronic rhinosinusitis can be caused by a number of things, including:
  • Respiratory tract infection
  • Nasal polyps (growths in the nasal passage) or tumors
  • A deviated nasal septum
  • Allergies Viral, fungal, or bacterial infections

Risk Factors of Chronic Rhinosinusitis

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Chronic rhinosinusitis most commonly affects young and middle-aged adults. 

Other factors that may increase your chance of getting chronic rhinosinusitis include: 
  • Nasal passage abnormalities, such as a deviated nasal septum or nasal polyps 
  • Aspirin sensitivity that causes respiratory symptoms 
  • Allergies that affect your sinuses 
  • Asthma Regular exposure to air pollutants  
  • Smoking or regular exposure to cigarette smoke  
  • Certain chronic medical conditions, such as GERD, HIV, cystic fibrosis, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 
Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get chronic rhinosinusitis; not having risk factors does not mean that you will not get chronic rhinosinusitis. If you think you may be at risk, you should talk to your doctor.

Treatment of Chronic Rhinosinusitis

At the Yale Sinus and Allergy Program, we use leading-edge medical and surgical techniques to treat the most complex and persistent sinus issues.  The exact treatment used to treat chronic rhinosinusitis depends on the cause of the condition. The goal of all treatment is to reduce sinus inflammation, keep your nasal passages draining, eliminate the underlying cause, and reduce the number of rhinosinusitis flare ups you have.  

Some non-surgical treatments include:
  • Nasal saline irrigations
  • AntibioticsNasal corticosteroids
  • Oral or injected corticosteroids
  • Antihistamines
  • Aspirin desensitization
  • Decongestants 
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers 
  • Immunotherapy 
Most patients with rhinosinusitis can be successfully treated with medications. For a small percentage of patients, however, medications alone are not adequate to completely clear their infections. In these patients, infections recur soon after completing even long courses of medication. Such patients often require surgery as a part of their treatment for rhino sinusitis. 

Functional endoscopic sinus surgery is a procedure designed to open the natural drainage pathways of the sinuses. In chronic rhinosinusitis, the sinuses are unable to drain adequately. As a result, normal nasal secretions become trapped in the sinuses and become chronically infected. The goal of the surgery is to carefully remove the thin bone and mucous membranes blocking the drainage pathways of the sinuses. The term “endoscopic” refers to the use of small nasal telescopes that allow all of the surgery to be performed through the nostrils, without the need for any incisions on the face. Recovery after the surgery is often faster than anticipated. The surgery is most commonly performed on an outpatient basis (or with a 23-hour hospital stay), and patients may return to near normal activity in one to two weeks.

Our goal is to help you finally feel relief from the constant discomfort of chronic rhinosinusitis.