Chronic sinusitis may be diagnosed if symptoms last for at least 12 weeks and providers have a number of ways to look for the cause. Dr. Mansfield, can you tell us more about diagnosing chronic sinusitis?
Sure, Dr. Flemings. During a physical examination, a provider may look inside the nose for signs of polyps and feel for areas of tenderness around the eyes, cheeks, nose, or forehead. They may also shine a light against the sinus to look for signs of inflammation.
A thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end, called an endoscope, may be inserted through the nose to allow the provider to see the inside of the sinuses. This is called nasal endoscopy or rhinoscopy.
A provider may also order imaging tests that can show details of the sinuses and nasal area. Computed tomography, or CT, scans and magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, are imaging studies that may be able to pinpoint a deep inflammation or physical obstruction that's difficult to see with an endoscope.
Nasal and sinus cultures may be tested to help determine the bacteria or fungus causing the infection. This is generally only done when treatment is ineffective or when chronic sinusitis is getting worse.
Finally, if the provider suspects that the condition might be related to allergies, they may recommend an allergy skin test. A skin test can identify the allergen that's responsible for allergic symptoms.