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Chronic Sinusitis Can Lead to Severe Complications

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If you experience persistent nasal congestion, thick green or yellow mucus, coughing for several weeks, headaches, or bad breath, you could be having warning signs of sinusitis, which is a common condition affecting children and adults. Leaving it untreated could lead to acute sinusitis and other severe complications such as nasal polyps or tumors.

Dr. Bannawat Tantikun, a rhinologist at Vejthani Hospital, explains that sinusitis is caused by inflammation of the lining of the sinus cavities. There are four pairs of cavities, including the Frontal Sinus, Ethmoid Sinus, Maxillary Sinus, and Sphenoid Sinus. The inflammation can happen in every position of the sinus.

Sinusitis shares similar symptoms to the common cold and allergies, but they are more severe and last longer. It could be a stuffy nose, thick green or yellow mucus, and postnasal drip, which irritates the throat and leads to more coughing, bad breath, headache, and pain around the temple, nose, eyebrows, or forehead. Fever and swollen eyes could present in severe cases.

The type of sinusitis can be categorized as follows: 

  1. Acute Sinusitis is usually caused by viral or bacterial infections. As the infection inflames, it leads to more mucus and a stuffy nose, lasting no more than four weeks.
  2. Subacute is the inflammation of the sinus that occurs between 4-12 weeks.
  3. Chronic Sinusitis is the advanced stage of the condition, characterized by chronic inflammation that has not developed from an infection. The symptoms can persist for more than 12 weeks and are primarily found in patients with allergies.

Various factors can cause sinusitis. Flu is the most common cause, especially for people with sleep deprivation or allergies, which can lead to persistent swollen nasal mucosa. Abnormalities inside the nasal cavity, such as a deviated nasal septum or enlarged turbinates, can block the openings to the sinuses and cause nasal polyps or tumors.

The complications of sinusitis

  • Eye problems: The tissues around the eye could be inflamed, causing symptoms such as a swollen eye, eye pain, pain when moving eyes, double vision, or blurred vision.
  • Brain problems: headache, nausea, vomiting, double vision, blurred vision, muscle weakness, and a high fever.
  • Sinusitis can affect both the upper and lower respiratory tracts, causing complications such as otitis media, tinnitus, pharyngitis, and laryngitis.

The diagnosis of sinusitis starts by taking a medical history, physical examination, and nasal endoscopy. In the case of chronic sinusitis that requires surgery, or patients with multiple chronic conditions, further tests like CT scans may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and severity of the disease.

The treatment for acute sinusitis primarily involves antibiotics and medicine to reduce swelling. The doctor will prescribe antibiotics depending on the severity and the type of infection. For chronic sinusitis, the doctor recommends nasal corticosteroids or saline nasal spray as treatment. However, if the symptoms do not improve, surgery might be the best solution to cure sinusitis. Presently, nasal endoscopic surgery is the preferred choice for surgeons as it provides a clear image of the surgical site and allows a precise removal of the inflamed tissues. The surgery is performed by inserting the equipment through the nostrils, causing no external scar. It is a safe approach that has reduced blood loss, minimizes post-operative pain, improves respiratory function, and expedites recovery.

Nonetheless, a self-care guide for sinusitis is to get sufficient sleep, follow a consistent exercise routine, avoid smoking and drinking, consume 7-8 cups of water daily, and stay away from dust and areas with sudden temperature changes, such as moving from hot to cool atmosphere immediately. If the severity progresses, consult a doctor, take medicine, and receive continuous treatment.

For more information, contact

ENT Center, Vejthani Hospital
Call 02-7340000 or Ext. 3400
English Hotline: (+66)8-522 38888

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