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Several types of source can cause rhinosinusitis. The problems can last only a short time, termed acute rhinosinusitis, or they can last for months of even years, called chronic rhinosinusitis. Different causes are susceptible to different treatments.


The environment contains extensive sources of nose and sinus irritants. Some of these can form biofilms, protective meshes that prevent the pathogens from being destroyed.

The environment contains extensive sources of nose and sinus irritants. Some of these can form biofilms, protective meshes that prevent the pathogens from being destroyed.

  • Viruses such as the common cold do not respond to antibacterial therapy. They usually result only in acute rhinosinusitis, however complications can lead to chronic rinosinusitis.
  • Bacteria can be treated with antibacterial agents.
  • Molds.
  • Allergens cause temporary swelling of the nose and sinuses. These can be relieved with antihistamines.
    • Dust.
    • Pollen.
    • Foods. Common food allergies that can induce rhinosinusitis include dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, and other grains. An elimination diet, in which the person eats a simple diet, can reveal possible allergens.
  • Substances in food could contribute to rhinosinusitis.
    • Alcohol can potentially aggravate sinus issues.
    • Preservatives and other additives are believed by some people to affect sinuses.
  • Weather can cause serious sinus issues. In particular, extremely high or low humidity and extremely cold or hot weather can cause problems. Sudden changes in atmospheric pressure, such as before a storm, can also aggravate problems.
  • Stress. Various environmental stressors, from loud noises to busy work lives, can contribute to sinus problems. Sometimes stress relief can reduce rhinosinusitis.
  • Glasses. Wearing spectacles applies additional pressure on the sinuses that can cause problems.


People are born with a set of genetic coding that can predispose the person towards rhinosinusitis. Additional biological developments throughout the course of life can cause sinus issues.

Humans evolved such that an upright posture and a large forebrain apply unusual pressures on the sinuses. [1] This development may have happened too fast for the sinuses to rebalance appropriately, explaining the large number and severity of sinus issues.

Traditionally, blockage of maxillary ostia (sinus openings into the nose) have been seen as leading to congestion and sinusitis. The maxillary ostia are located high up the sinuses, preventing gravity from clearing the sinuses, and requiring the cilia (clearing hairs) to do more work. This results in less effective clearance. More recent research has found that blockage of the nostrils can also lead to sinusitis. As air flows more freely through the nose and sinuses, it assists in clearing mucus.

  • Anatomical variations are abundant. Just as each person has a different fingerprint or face, each person has different sinuses.
    • Small or otherwise malformed sinuses or nose.
    • Some people argue that autistic personality types are associated with a particular frontal sinus problem. [2]
  • Thicker mucus is more viscous and difficult to clear compared to thin mucus. This can change from individual to individual, and over time. In particular, various illnesses can temporarily affect the consistency of mucus.
  • Weak immune system.
  • Polyps.
  • Deviated septum.
  • Thyroid problems could cause imbalances in signaling in the body.