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Could It Be a Sinus Infection?

Recognizing the Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis


Updated December 10, 2008

Could It Be a Sinus Infection?
Photo by A.D.A.M.

Almost everyone with cystic fibrosis (CF) has some degree of chronic nasal or sinus disease. Since the symptoms pale in comparison to other CF symptoms, most people with CF don’t know they have sinus problems until complications arise. The nasal passages, sinuses, and lungs are all connected, so infections can travel between them. It is important to recognize and treat sinus infections early to prevent them from causing more serious lung infections.

Common Symptoms

Most people recognize the classic symptoms of green or yellow nasal drainage, facial pain, and pressure that are associated with acute, or short-term, sinusitis but these symptoms are not common in chronic sinusitis. Symptoms of chronic sinusitis are more subtle and may include:

  • Nasal blockage
  • Runny nose
  • Daily headaches
  • Lack of sense of smell
  • Morning cough
  • Bad breath
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Frequent throat clearing
  • Fatigue

As you can see, the list of symptoms is very nondescript and could be caused by a variety of conditions. If you have any of them, talk to your CF center physician to decide if further testing is warranted.

Robertson, J.M., Friedman, E.M., and Rubin, B.K. “Nasal and Sinus Disease in Cystic Fibrosis”. Paediatric Respiratory Reviews. 2008. 9:213–219. 2008 December 7

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