Feeling a Bit Stuffed Up? Learn More about Your Sinuses and Sinus Disease

Sinus disease involves inflammation or swelling of the lining of the sinus cavities, causing the passages between your sinuses and the nasal cavity to become blocked and mucus buildup in the sinus cavity, thus the pressure and pain you experience.

Break out the neti pot, start a pot of chicken soup, and pick up a large takeout order of hot and spicy soup. The discomfort and irritation of a stuffy nose demands a solution.

There are plenty of home remedies and over-the-counter products that provide temporary relief for sinus disease or rhinosinusitis.

Where acute cases tend to go away within a few weeks, ridding yourself of chronic sinusitis is more of a challenge.

According to a 2019 study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, chronic rhinosinusitis affects between 5% and 12% of the general population, making it of significant concern for otolaryngologists and other healthcare professionals.

The doctors at ENT Consultants of East Tennessee are here to help by providing you with the necessary information about sinus disease to make an informed choice when it comes to treatment.

Understanding sinus disease, which typically relates to chronic or recurrent conditions, requires a basic understanding of your sinuses.

What Are the Sinuses?

Your sinuses are made up of four paired cavities. One pair is above the eyes, behind the bone of your forehead, and the other pair is below the eyes, behind the upper cheekbones.

Each sinus cavity connects to the nasal passage, which runs from your nostrils, between the eyes, and to your forehead by narrow passages.

The purpose of the sinus cavities is to produce a sticky, gelatinous material (mucus) to keep the nasal cavity clear of bacteria, allergens, and various other pathogens.

There Are 4 Types of Rhinosinusitis or Sinus Disease

Sinus disease involves inflammation or swelling of the lining of the sinus cavities, causing the passages between your sinuses and the nasal cavity to become blocked and mucus buildup in the sinus cavity, thus the pressure and pain you experience.

There are four different types of sinus disease, rhinosinusitis, or simply sinusitis. Each is defined by the length of time that symptoms persist as well as the cause of the inflammation:

01 Acute sinusitis is typically caused by common cold viruses that last for less than four weeks.

02 Subacute sinusitis is similar to acute sinusitis, but the condition lingers for up to 12 weeks.

03 Chronic sinusitis can be caused by a bacterial infection or other permanent physical condition and lasts for more than 12 weeks.

04 Recurrent sinusitis involves repeated acute sinusitis that occurs four or more times within a year, lasting a little less than two weeks at a time, and is caused by the same conditions as chronic sinusitis.

Are You at a Greater Risk of Developing Sinus Disease?

Risk factors related to the development of sinus disease are included in three categories: genetic factors, comorbid conditions and diseases, and environmental factors.

Within these categories are several triggers that lead to the development of chronic or recurrent sinusitis, such as:


Allergies and asthma


Nasal polyps (growths) that impede normal mucus drainage


Deviated septum. When the line of tissue that divides your nasal cavity isn’t straight, it can narrow the passage on one side of your nose.


A weakened immune system


Smoking or exposure to other airborne pollutants


Chronic dental infections

If any or several of these conditions apply to you and you regularly experience sinus infections, it may be time to search for a more permanent solution to your condition.

Finding Relief from Sinus Disease

Acute and subacute sinus conditions typically go away on their own. Unless associated with another health condition that requires prescription medication, the extent of treatment for most of these cases is symptom relief from home remedies and OTC products.

When it comes to cases of chronic and recurrent sinus disease, it is often necessary to treat the underlying cause with prescription medications or surgical procedures such as FESS or endoscopic sinus surgery.

If you just can’t seem to shake your sinus infection or it goes away and comes back four or more times throughout the year, it’s time to consult our team of ear, nose, and throat doctors at ENT Consultants of East Tennessee.

We have the experience, expertise, and equipment to provide you with the relief your stuffy sinuses demand. Contact us online or give us a call at (865) 693-6065 to schedule your consultation today!

Find the solution that’s right for you

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S. Mark Overholt, M.D.

Mark grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, and went to Webb School of Knoxville for High School and Stanford University As a general otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon, like many others in the team, he sees patients for half of the day and operates the other half of the day. Serving as president of the group, he is involved in administration decisions and planning, ensuring the ENT practice is always striving for success. He believes his partners are all well-educated and compassionate physicians and finds it a joy to practice caring for the wonderful people of East Tennessee. Nothing fulfills Mark more than solving a problem for a patient who has been suffering for a while, whether it is as simple as letting them breathe more easily, stopping their sinus infections, or walking through their cancer journey towards a cure. Mark loves his job and is honored to walk out the door with a smile on his face each day. Outside of work, Mark is an avid fly fisherman. He enjoys traveling to new places where he can experience different cultures with his family. He also loves history reading and is a passionate cook.

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