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Risk Factors and Causes


Dr. Flemings
There are a number of conditions that can cause chronic sinusitis. Dr. Patel, can you tell us about some of these conditions and how they contribute to the development of chronic sinusitis?

Dr. Patel
Of course, Dr. Flemings. When the sinus openings become blocked or too much mucus builds up, bacteria and fungi can grow and infect the mucous membranes more easily, causing inflammation.

One common cause of blockage is the development of nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are soft, sac-like growths on the lining inside the nose or sinuses. It's not known for sure why nasal polyps develop, but they often grow in conjunction with long-term swelling and irritation from allergies, asthma, or infection. If nasal polyps grow too large, they can block the nasal passages or sinuses.

Another common cause of chronic sinusitis is a condition called deviated nasal septum. The septum is the wall between the nostrils. A deviated septum means the wall is crooked, which can restrict or block sinus passages.

Allergic rhinitis is another condition that can lead to chronic sinusitis, particularly if allergic symptoms are not well controlled. The inflammation that occurs with allergies can block the sinuses.

Respiratory tract infections, such as the common cold, can also inflame the sinuses and thicken the sinus membranes. This can block mucus drainage, which allows the bacteria or virus responsible for the infection to remain and grow in the sinuses.

Finally, other medical conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, gastroesophageal reflux, HIV, and other diseases related to the immune system can have complications that result in blockage of sinus and nasal passages.