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Oh, So My Sinusitis Is Chronic: Life Lessons from Patient Portals

While looking through my patient portal,  I noticed that in 2014 my sinusitis was diagnosed as “chronic”. Ummm… I barely knew I had sinusitis since at the visit that followed the ENT indicated that one, my nose looked good and there was no indication. Looking back, they did recommend that an oral steroid would be helpful. However, I only remember this being in the context that I may need to intermittently treat my sinusitis but largely thought it is under control. I guess I was wrong about that one. In hindsight, I should have treated it like asthma, the presence of inflammation would be indicated that it would need to be treated. I am not sure why I never correlated that my nasal steroids should have been treated the same way as my asthma controller. Oops, I got that one so wrong. In some ways, it was like having a cold.

The part of this story that has me floored in why did I find out from a “Portal”  instead of from physician about the status of my sinusitis. Was there really an ebb and flow to figuring this out? If they knew, they should have informed me or at least checked for understanding that I knew what meant.

What is chronic sinusitis?

Chronic sinusitis is described as sinuses being inflamed and swollen for at least 12 weeks despite treatment attempts.1 It may also be known as chronic rhinosinusitis, it may start as an infection, be related to growths in the sinuses (nasal polyps) or by a dedicated septum.2 I wasn’t really aware that I had anything beyond the infection.

Chronic sinusitis symptoms include:

  • thick discolored discharge or post nasal drainage
  • Nasal obstruction or congestion
  • Pain or tenderness around your eyes, nose, cheeks or forehead
  • Reduced sense of taste in adults or cough in children1

Connection between chronic sinusitis and asthma?

There is thought to be a correlation between chronic sinusitis and asthma, some patients have both, some have one, but not the other. There are thoughts that the airway should be viewed as one continuum from the nasal passages to the alveoli – the “United Airway concept”. It is thought that the mucosa of the upper and lower airways are constantly exposed to triggers and inflammation may be triggered by a system response that is caused by nasal obstruction. Huang et al found a link that asthma stability is closely linked to chronic rhinosinusitis stability. When chronic rhinosinusitis is stable, essentially asthma is as well.3

I am not sure that I have ever noticed the correlation, then again, I also didn’t know that my sinusitis was chronic. I do know that when nasal congestion is controlled that I do indeed breathe better. Even little things that can improve your breathing are worth having under control. I am making a pledge to take more interest in my sinusitis.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  2. Feng CH, Miller MD, Simon RA. The united allergic airway: connections between allergic rhinitis, asthma, and chronic sinusitis. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2012;26(3):187-90.
  3. Huang CC, Wang CH, Fu CH, et al. The link between chronic rhinosinusitis and asthma: A questionnaire-based study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2016;95(31):e4294.


  • JanetH
    10 months ago

    My allergist thought I had chronic sinusitis for a long time. An ENT determined after a CT scan that I do not have it. BUT–I also have migraines in addition to allergies and asthma. Migraines can cause nasal stuffiness and facial pain, even pain in the teeth area. Usually it’s one-sided, but not always. I’ve read that many people who have been diagnosed with sinusitis when further examined, it was determined they have migraine headaches. They can cause a myriad of odd symptoms. I’m no doctor, but if seeing an ENT and allergist and doing the allergy/sinusitis treatments don’t seem to give relief, ask about migraines.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    10 months ago

    Hi JanetH and thanks for your post. We appreciate your viewpoint, analysis and suggestion. I’m hopeful others will read what you have said and use it to their advantage if applicable. Thanks for your input! Leon (site moderator)

  • Shellzoo
    10 months ago

    I have been told in the past I have chronic sinusitis and was encouraged to use a netti pot but that was not something I could tolerate. Now I use Flonase twice a day and other than bouts where everything tastes the same, it keeps my nose pretty happy, sinus pressure down and I can breath at night so I sleep better. I think the key was getting the inflammation controlled. As always Dia, nice article! Hope you feel better too!

  • John Bottrell, RRT moderator
    10 months ago

    Hi. Shellzoo. I agree with you that this is another great article by Dia. I can certainly understand how a netti pot might not be tolerable by an asthmatic. Glad to hear Flonase works so well for you. Back in the day when I had chronic sinusitis such great medicines didn’t exist. The cure for me was surgery to fix my septum. John Site Moderator.

  • Shellzoo
    10 months ago

    Hopefully that surgery has improved over the years. I remember patients being miserable afterwards.

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