Sinusitis

Sinusitis Specialist
With a specialty in both ENT and dentistry, Jerome List, MD, DDS, with Alaska Ear Nose & Throat in Anchorage, Alaska, has a unique perspective on conditions such as sinusitis. Acute and chronic sinusitis affect most adults at some point in their lives. Finding the right treatment for both the infection and underlying risk factors is the key to preventing complications from this potentially life-threatening condition.

Sinusitis Q&A

What is sinusitis?

Sinusitis is a very common problem that affects the cavities, or empty spaces, around your nose and eyes. The reason people have sinuses is unclear. Most professionals believe they serve to reduce the weight of the skull while humidifying the air you breathe.

A diagnosis of sinusitis means the nasal passages that line these cavities become inflamed, usually due to infection or growths called polyps. In some cases, the irritation is related to a physical defect such as a deviated nasal septum.

Who is at risk for sinusitis?

Anyone can contract this inflammation, but it tends to affect adults more than children. Risk factors include:

  • A nasal abnormality
  • Asthma
  • Sensitivity to aspirin
  • Hay fever or being prone to allergies
  • Constant exposure to pollutants like smoke

You may also be at risk for sinusitis if you have an immune system disorder that puts you at risk for infections such as AIDS.

What are the symptoms of sinusitis?

The four primary symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • Thick discharge from the nose or postnasal drip
  • Nasal congestion
  • Tenderness around the eyes, cheeks, forehead, and bridge of the nose
  • Reduced smell and taste

There may be other symptoms, as well, especially if the condition is chronic or goes untreated. Patients with sinusitis might experience ear pain, for example, or develop an ache in the jawbone. Sinusitis is often accompanied by bad breath, fatigue, and a sore throat. You might develop a persistent cough that gets worse at night.

What is the treatment for sinusitis?

The treatment will vary based on factors such as the underlying cause of the inflammation. The goal is to reduce swelling and open up your passages regardless of what’s causing the condition. This usually means sinus nasal irrigation and possibly treatment with corticosteroids -- oral, nasal, or injected. For some people, surgery is recommended to remodel the bone around the cavities to prevent further sinus difficulties.

Dr. List will exam your nose and face and possibly order imaging to confirm the diagnosis. If he suspects an infection, he’ll order a culture to pinpoint the microorganism involved to provide a more accurate treatment plan.

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