What Is Chronic Sinusitis?
Chronic sinusitis occurs when the sinuses, the spaces inside the nose and head, are swollen and inflamed for several weeks or months out of the year. Sinusitis interferes with the way mucus normally drains, and can cause the nose to feel stuffy, make breathing through the nose difficult, and can cause the area around the eyes to become swollen. This condition can affect both adults and children.
The most common signs and symptoms of chronic sinusitis include:
- Nasal inflammation
- Postnasal drainage (drainage down the back of the throat)
- Congested nose
- Reduced sense of taste and smell
- Thick, discolored discharge from the nose
- Pain and tenderness around the eyes
- Ear pain
- Sore throat
Chronic sinusitis and acute sinusitis have very similar symptoms, but acute sinusitis is a temporary infection of the sinuses, often associated with a cold. Chronic sinusitis is the constant or recurrent occurrence of sinusitis, which could include some or all of the above symptoms.
Chronic sinusitis is a particularly common condition among veterans because of the number of airborne contaminants service members come into contact with on deployment. One 2017 study found that veterans who had been deployed to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom or Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom were 29 percent more likely to be diagnosed with sinusitis during or after their deployment compared to their counterparts who were not deployed.
How The VA Rates Sinusitis
Under 38 CFR § 4.97, the VA rates sinusitis according to its impact on the veterans daily functioning. The types of sinusitis eligible for service connection in the VA disability system are:
- Sinusitis, pansinusitis, chronic (Diagnostic code 6510)
- Sinusitis, ethmoid, chronic (Diagnostic code 6511)
- Sinusitis, frontal, chronic (Diagnostic code 6512)
- Sinusitis, maxillary, chronic (Diagnostic code 6513)
- Sinusitis, sphenoid, chronic (Diagnostic code 6514
When evaluating the severity of chronic sinusitis, the VA uses the General Rating Formula for Sinusitis:
- 50 – Following radical surgery with chronic osteomyelitis, or; near constant sinusitis characterized by headaches, pain and tenderness of affected sinus, and purulent discharge or crusting after repeated surgeries
- 30 – Three or more incapacitating episodes per year of sinusitis requiring prolonged (lasting four to six weeks) antibiotic treatment, or; more than six non-incapacitating episodes per year of sinusitis characterized by headaches, pain, and purulent discharge or crusting
- 10 – One or two incapacitating episodes per year of sinusitis requiring prolonged (lasting four to six weeks) antibiotic treatment, or; three to six non-incapacitating episodes per year of sinusitis characterized by headaches, pain, and purulent discharge or crusting
- 0 – Detected by X-ray only
For rating purposes, the VA considers an incapacitating episode of sinusitis to mean one that requires bed rest and treatment by a physician.
Get Help With Your Chronic Sinusitis VA Claim
If you are a veteran with sinusitis and are looking for assistance with your VA disability claim, please contact our office today. Our experienced veterans disability attorneys can help you get the compensation to which you are entitled.