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Sinusitis is a common medical condition that occurs when there is an inflammation in the sinus cavity. It can be classified as acute sinusitis, which lasts up to three months, or chronic sinusitis, which lasts three months or longer. Inflammation can be caused by bacteria or viruses, or it can be in response to allergies, tobacco use, or environmental irritants.

When inflammation does not clear on its own, doctors can provide a comprehensive evaluation with minimal discomfort. This allows for diagnosis of the cause of inflammation and identification of any anatomic abnormalities, such as nasal or sinus polyps, a deviated septum, swelling, or abnormal nasal secretions.

Medication is typically the first course of treatment for sinusitis, but when that is ineffective surgery might be necessary. This is an outpatient procedure performed under general anesthetic.

If you suffer from difficulty breathing through your nose or develop frequent sinus infections, and first-line medical treatments have been ineffective, help is available. Better breathing can improve sleep, quality of life, and overall health.


Rhinitis is the reaction your body has when something irritates the inner lining of the nose. It can be allergic, such as from pollen or animal dander, or a temporary irritation caused by a powerful odor, like pepper or perfume. Infectious rhinitis is caused by a virus, like the common cold, and usually clears up on its own.

Symptoms of rhinitis interfere with daily life, sleeping, and overall comfort, and include sneezing, burning or itchy nose, excess nasal discharge, nasal blockage, headaches, and itchy, watery eyes. When rhinitis is left untreated, it can cause facial pain and anosmia.

Treatment for rhinitis depends on the cause. If possible, patients should avoid triggers for rhinitis or take an over-the-counter antihistamine in anticipation of exposure. Non-pharmaceutical tools, such as masks, air purifiers, pillow covers, humidifiers, plastic covers, and certain pet baths can also be useful for reducing reactions to specific allergens.

If rhinitis continues, medication might be necessary to treat the problem. Nasal sprays, oral steroids, prescription antihistamines, decongestants, mucus thinning agents, and immunotherapy can also be extremely effective for reducing or eliminating the symptoms of rhinitis.

Nasal Polyps

Nasal polyps are tear-shaped growths that occur inside the nose. They are non-cancerous and often associated with asthma or allergies. Some people have nasal polyps with no symptoms, especially if the polyps are small. Larger polyps block sinus drainage, which can lead to infection. Nasal polyps can be treated with medication, but they tend to recur and might need to be removed surgically.

Symptoms of nasal polyps vary based on the size, but include nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, postnasal drip, loss or reduction of sense of smell, loss of taste, facial pain, itchy eyes, and chronic sinus infections.

Nasal polyps are diagnosed with a simple endoscope exam and first treated with a nasal corticosteroid spray. Larger polyps often require surgical removal, but might not be effective for patients with polyps who also suffer from asthma and/or aspirin sensitivity. A combination of long-term treatment can be effective for managing symptoms and restoring sense of smell and taste in these cases.

Deviated Nasal Septum

A deviated nasal symptom causes a number of day-to-day issues with comfort and breathing. The condition occurs when the bone and cartilage dividing the nasal cavity (the septum) is crooked. Most people have some misalignment, but when the imbalance is severe it will interfere with breathing.

Symptoms of a deviated septum include:

  • Nasal congestion, especially worse on one side
  • Difficult breathing
  • Loud breathing
  • Snoring
  • Headaches
  • Facial pain
  • Nosebleeds
  • Postnasal drip

Medication can be used to clear the nasal passages and make breathing easier if the symptoms are not that severe. In extreme cases of deviated septum, a surgery called septoplasty is necessary to repair the imbalance and improve breathing on a permanent basis.

The surgery includes the doctor making a small incision in the septum and removing the excess bone or cartilage. This balances the nasal passages and allows air to flow through the nose evenly. Septoplasty is sometimes combined with rhinoplasty to create a septorhinoplasty to improve the function and appearance of the nose.

Nasal Congestion

Nasal congestion, sometimes called a stuffy or runny nose, is usually not serious and lasts only a short time. Most people suffer through nasal congestion with few complications when they have a head cold or seasonal allergies.

Unfortunately, there are times when chronic nasal congestion becomes a problem and a visit to the doctor is necessary. Something other than a virus or allergies is triggering the problem and a more aggressive treatment approach is necessary. You should also schedule an appointment with a doctor if you notice blood or green discharge in your nasal secretions, or if your nasal congestions is accompanied by a high fever or lasts more than 10 days because these symptoms could indicate a bacterial infection.

You might also require a doctor’s care even if these other symptoms are not present. Nasal congestion could be a sign of severe allergies, nasal polyps, or a deviated septum. Medication is available to treat many of these problems, but severe issues could require surgery to resolve.

Recurrent Colds

Most people experience a bout with the common cold from time to time, and despite a few miserable days, it’s not that serious an illness.

However, there are instances in which colds are recurrent and completely alter a person’s quality of life. When this occurs, more than the basic rest fluids, over-the-counter cold medication is required to treat the problem.

Suffering recurrent cold-related symptoms could indicate a problem with a person’s immunity. It could also be a sign of a respiratory or sinus infection that needs to be treated with antibiotics. Cold symptoms might not even be an illness, but instead triggered by an allergic reaction that could be managed with medication. This is often the case when recurrent cold symptoms occur during a certain time of year or when exposed to a certain environment.

Finally, recurrent colds could be connected with a serious medical condition, which is why it is so important to see a doctor. If the cold symptoms you experience are not gone within a few days, return multiple times, or are coupled with atypical symptoms, you should contact a doctor as soon as possible.

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