Sinus Infections, Sinusitus
Postnasal Drip, Headache, and Chronic Sinus Conditions
September 15, 2016
Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD
Postnasal drip is a common problem among people of all ages. Each day, the glands located in your nose and throat produce up to 2 quarts of mucus.
Under normal circumstances, this mucus is not noticeable, but when your body begins to produce more than it needs, you will notice the symptoms associated with postnasal drip. When postnasal drip occurs with headaches, it might be a sign of a chronic condition.
Chronic sinusitis is best described as inflammation and swelling in the sinuses that lasts longer than three months. If you have this condition, you might have chronic nasal congestion and sinus headaches. You might also experience sore throat, aching teeth, ear pain, nausea, fatigue, and bad breath.
This condition can affect people of all ages and can be caused by structural defects in the nasal cavity, such as a deviated septum or obstructive polyps.
If you have HIV, respiratory infections, allergies or GERD, you could be at an increased risk of developing this condition. Unlike acute sinusitis, most people with chronic sinusitis do not have fever.
You might develop complications from chronic sinus conditions if they are left untreated. If infection spreads to other areas of your body, you could experience vision problems, cellulitis, loss of smell, or meningitis. While these complications are not common, the potential does exist.
Your doctor will evaluate your medical history and perform an examination to diagnose the cause of your chronic nasal congestion and sinus headaches. The doctor might also order diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays, a CT, or an MRI.
These tests can provide detailed images of your sinus cavity and aid in diagnosis. If these tests are not conclusive, your doctor may perform a rhinoscopy. During this procedure, a thin tube is placed inside the nose to view the inside of your sinuses.
Many doctors routinely perform allergy testing on those who have chronic sinus problems. If you are allergic to certain substances, exposure might be causing flare-ups of sinus symptoms.
After diagnosing the cause of chronic sinus problems, your doctor might prescribe nasal sprays with corticosteroids. These sprays can reduce and prevent sinus inflammation. In addition to sprays, you might also be prescribed oral steroids or antibiotics.
If you have allergies, immunotherapy might be ordered to reduce your symptoms. In severe cases that cannot be cleared with medication, surgery might be required. This is most common in those who have obstructions such as nasal polyps or a deviated septum.
Make sure you consult with your doctor before pursuing any serious line of treatment, and to make sure you get a proper diagnosis of your condition. Your doctor will be able to tell you what is going on and provide the best course of action.