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Harvard Medical School
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General Medical Questions
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Question : I get sinus infections all the time. What can I do to get rid of them for good?
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The Trusted Source
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David M. Vernick, M.D. is assistant professor of otology and laryngology at Harvard Medical School and chief of the Division of Otology and Laryngology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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September 06, 2011
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A:

There are many reasons for recurring sinus infections. To treat and prevent them, you need to figure out why they happen in the first place.

Here are some possibilities:

  • Sometimes, the makeup of your nose is the problem. If you have a deviated nasal septum or a narrowed sinus ostium (drainage site for the sinus), it can block drainage and lead to infection. Fixing these can solve the problem.
  • If you have allergies, it can cause swelling in your nose and get in the way of drainage. Allergy treatment will help.
  • Your immune system might not be functioning normally. This could put you at risk for frequent infections. HIV/AIDS, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, cancer and chemotherapy are associated with weak immune systems. Treatment is primarily aimed at controlling these conditions.
  • If you have polyps or tumors in your nose, they can block drainage. Treatment depends upon diagnosing the obstruction and pursuing proper therapy.
  • Sometimes being around inhalants (like cigarette smoke and dust) can cause the inner part of your nose to swell. This could lead to a sinus infection.
  • There are also rare causes for sinus infections, such as immotile cilia syndrome and cystic fibrosis. These require special testing to diagnose.

Whatever the cause, I recommend an appointment with an ear, nose and throat specialist (an otolaryngologist). He or she will perform a thorough history and physical exam. Then you can get tested to get to the right diagnosis and therapy.

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