Smoking is harmful to your health and there are many good reasons to quit. Smoking can lead to cancer of the throat, lungs and bladder, smokers are more likely to die early, and smokers spend more time in the hospital than non-smokers. Another problem is the negative impact smoking has on your sinuses. The good news is that this adverse effect of smoking on your sinuses can be reversed once you quit. This gives doctors yet another reason to persuade their patients to quit smoking. Why is smoking so bad for your sinuses, and what happens when you quit?

Smoking and Sinusitis

Your sinuses and membranes in your nose are constantly producing mucus that protects and coats your respiratory system. There are tiny hairs in the sinuses that act as filters, clearing particles and bacteria, and smoking can damage these cilia. Once damaged, the sinuses can’t filter as effectively, and predisposes the smoker to infections. Mucus that is usually cleared from the sinuses can stick around and bacteria can begin to multiply. This leads to sinus infections which can become chronic. Smoking irritates your airway and exposes your lungs and sinuses to many harmful gases.. All of this irritation makes your airways and sinuses inflamed resulting in chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS) with congestion and pain.

Chronic Rhinosinusitis

CRS is diagnosed when an infection of the sinuses lasts for 12 weeks or more, and can really affect someone’s quality of life even though the symptoms may be low-grade. You may experience nasal congestion, mucus discharge, or postnasal drip. You may lose your sense of smell or have facial pain or pressure which can become severe. A chronic cough can accompany CRS, resulting in loss of sleep and fatigue can be one of the most difficult symptoms with which to cope.

Diagnosing Rhinosinusitis

If you have been experiencing symptoms related to CRS for three months or more your doctor may want to get a conclusive diagnosis. A sinus endoscopy can be used to take a sample of mucus from your sinuses to be examined under a microscope. While this procedure can reveal whether bacteria is present, it is invasive and can be uncomfortable. A CT scan, rather than the old fashioned x-ray, is the best way to obtain a detailed evaluation of the sinuses, including any thickened lining, retained fluid or polyps within those spaces.  If you need medical imaging to determine the cause of your sinus problems, seven of the Servant Medical Imaging  locations have high quality CT  to help you and your provider determine the next step in your treatment.

Good News

If you are suffering from sinus problems, you may think that the damage is done and there is no use quitting smoking now. Aside from the fact that smoking is bad for you in so many other ways, new research shows that sinusitis gets better when you stop smoking. This is huge news for smokers who have struggled with pain, pressure, and chronic fatigue due to CRS. Although it could take up to 10 years, CRS should improve in smokers who quit, and their condition should ultimately return to that of a non-smoker. This is great motivation for CRS smokers, and great information for practitioners to share with their patients.

If you are experiencing the pain, nasal drip, and fatigue that can go along with CRS you should get a diagnosis as soon as possible. If you need medical imaging for your symptoms, our Broken Arrow, Owasso, Stillwater, Norman, Yukon,  Midwest City and Altus locations all offer CT scanning that can help. If you are suffering from CRS and still smoking, quitting as soon as possible will get you on the road to health and healing. This new research gives great motivation for finding relief from CRS symptoms after quitting smoking, and provides hope that your quality of life will be greatly improved.