A sinus infection is a common ailment that a little over 12 percent of Americans have suffered (or are currently suffering) from. While many times these infections are one-off occurrences, some people get them on a recurring basis or the infection never really goes away once the person develops it. Here are three causes of chronic sinus infections and what you can do to fix the issue.
Nasal polyps are soft growths that form in the nose and sinus cavities. Though the name sounds scary because of its similarity to colon and bladder polyps, these growths are rarely cancerous or even portend cancer. In fact, nasal polyps are typically small and asymptomatic, and most people don't know they have them.
However, these growths can cause problems in the sinus cavity if they get too large or numerous. They prevent the nose from draining like normal, which leads to mucus buildup and eventually an infection if the sinuses remain plugged.
Nasal polyps are caused by a variety of things including asthma, allergies, cystic fibrosis, and something being lodged in the nose. They are easily removed via a simple surgery, but they may return depending on their underlying cause. If you frequently get sinus infections, it's a good idea to have your doctor check for polyps, remove them, and treat any underlying cause if necessary to keep them from coming back.
Another common cause of frequent sinus infections is a deviated septum. The nasal passage is divided in half by a bone and piece of cartilage. In an estimated 80 percent of people, this separating column is misaligned, which is the cause of several issues such as postnasal drip, sleep apnea, and snoring.
If the deviation is severe enough, it can interfere with the nose's ability to drain and cause sinus infections, just like in the case of nasal polyps. Unlike nasal polyps, though, a deviated septum produces some clear symptoms such as headaches, nosebleeds, difficulty breathing through the nose, and snoring or loud breathing during sleep.
Although doctors sometimes prescribe medication to people with a deviated septum, it's typically to alleviate the symptoms associated with the condition. Surgery is required to permanently fix the problem. The procedure is fairly routine and can be done on an outpatient basis. A plastic surgeon will also typically correct a deviated septum on patients undergoing rhinoplasty.
However, most medical professionals prefer to wait until the nose has stopped growing before performing the surgery, so talk to your doctor about other treatment options for adolescents and kids who may be suffering from this issue.
Anything that regularly interferes with the nasal cavity's ability to drain can be the cause of frequent sinus infections, which is why people who have allergic rhinitis often get them. Allergic rhinitis is the official name for allergies caused by contaminants such as pollen, dust, animal dander, chemicals, and other airborne pollutants.
In people with allergies, the irritant gets into the nose and the body overreacts by sending antibodies to attack the contaminants as though they were actually bacteria or viruses. As a result, people often suffer from congestion because the nasal membranes swell and block the sinuses from draining.
As you can imagine, this can lead to sinus infections if the allergic reaction goes on for long enough. Luckily, there are a number of prescription and over-the-counter products designed to alleviate the allergy symptoms. It's best to discuss these options with your doctor to determine the best one for you.
To learn more about these issues or get help treating a chronic sinus infection, contact local professionals like Premier Urgent Care Centers of California, Inc.