Causes of Chronic Sinusitis

While many think sinusitis is a disease in itself, this isn’t exactly true. Instead, it’s used as an umbrella term because there are several causes of chronic sinusitis and diseases that can lead to this health problem. Otherwise known as chronic rhinosinusitis, the issue actually describes inflammation within the nasal passages. While this can happen often for all of us, medical attention should be sought whenever the problem lasts for a number of weeks and if home treatments don’t have an impact.

Considering it effects the sinuses directly, you could start to see a problem with drainage, mucus build-up, and even breathing. Over time, you might see swelling around your eyes and your face could feel tender and sensitive to the touch. In terms of causes, there are a number of diseases and infections linked with the health problem. Furthermore, it’s something that most commonly affects younger to middle-age adults.

Causes of Chronic Sinusits

With this in mind, what are the actual causes of chronic sinusitis? As mentioned, doctors and ENT specialists will need to run a series of tests if there are no obvious signs from the beginning because the issue can be caused by a number of infections, diseases, and reactions.

Nasal Polyps

First and foremost, some people experience small growths in the nose and nasal tissue. Although they’re benign, they can block the cavities, prevent mucus from being cleared, and eventually lead to a more serious infection. Since they also disturb the airways, they’ve been known to cause headaches which instantly makes people think of other health conditions when it actually starts in the nose.

In terms of the signs, people with nasal polyps normally have a disturbed sense of smell and allergies can also lead to scars within the nasal passage. Typically, nasal steroid sprays can be used to treat this issue. However, this isn’t successful in all cases which is why some professionals will start talking about surgery early on in case the steroidal treatment is ineffective.

Deviated Nasal Septum

In a healthy human, the cartilage and bone that separates the nasal cavity in half is straight and divides the area into two equal spaces. If you have a deviated nasal septum, this means the cartilage and bone is crooked or off-center, causing problems with breathing as well as chronic sinusitis.

For the most part, it can be hard to know if you have a deviated nasal septum and this is for two reasons.  For one, around 80% of us have some form of deviated septum (those who need medical attention are the most severe cases).  Secondly, they can develop in different ways as some will experience the change over time while others are born with the problem (they don’t know any different). If medicine doesn’t help, surgery is likely to be suggested by a qualified professional.

Respiratory Tract Infection

If you experience an infection within your respiratory tract, this can cause inflammation in the sinus membranes thus preventing efficient drainage for mucus. Whether this issue is bacterial, fungal, or even viral, they can all lead to chronic sinusitis. For treatment, dealing with the infection is likely to be the first step because this should destroy the root cause of the sinusitis.

Other Diseases

In addition to these three problems, HIV, gastroesophageal reflux, cystic fibrosis can also all be causes of chronic sinusitis. Typically, it seems to come most frequently from diseases linked to the immune system. For some, this problem is then exacerbated by allergies and pollutants within the atmosphere.

Two diagrams of man's sinuses, suggesting that the causes of chronic sinusitis must be looked into.

There are many different causes of chronic sinusitis, ranging from nasal polyps to a deviated septum, even lifestyle choices like smoking. It could also be indicatve of other diseases so it’s best to seek professional help if you suffer from sinusitis.


If you have chronic sinusitis or you believe you’re currently experiencing the symptoms, medical attention is pivotal because there are many complications that come from the condition including meningitis, loss of smell, and problems with eyesight. Furthermore, the infection can actually spread to the bones and skin. Although this last one is extremely uncommon, it happens to a certain percentage and there’s no reason why you won’t be in this percentage; unfortunately, we can’t control whether or not something affects us, no matter how rare, unless we get professional help.


The diseases cited as causes of chronic sinusitis show why medical attention is important. If you have a blockage in the nasal passage, it could actually be a sign of a deeper problem that can lead to something more serious. We recommend you seek the help of a professional.  Once they locate the issue, they can work towards a solution and you can be happy (and relieved!) once again.

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