If you’ve ever had a sinus infection, you know how the symptoms can impact your daily activities.
Sinusitis is a common condition in which the cavities around the nasal passages (sinuses) become swollen or inflamed. Inflammation can lease to these symptoms:
- Sinus headache
- Pain or pressure in the sinuses, ears or teeth
- Facial pain or tenderness
- Postnasal drainage
The first level of treatment for sinusitis typically includes over-the-counter medications and home treatments aimed at improving drainage, relieving pain and pressure, clearing up any infection, and preventing scar tissue. Individuals with acute (short-term) sinusitis usually improve on their own within four weeks.
When symptoms persist and become bothersome, individuals often seek out their primary care physicians for treatment. In certain cases, antibiotics may be prescribed. Your doctor will assess your symptoms and history to determine how to proceed. Antibiotics are effective when treating bacterial infections. If the sinus infection stems from a viral infection, antibiotics will not be effective.
For sufferers of chronic sinusitis, sinusitis lasting 12 weeks or longer, prolonged inflammation (rather than infection) is typically the cause, and treatment progresses more slowly. Often, nasal irrigation and corticosteroid nasal sprays are used to help reduce inflammation. In some cases, when a fungus appears to be the cause of the infection, an antifungal medicine may also be prescribed.
When home treatments, over-the-counter, and prescription medications do not offer relief, that’s the time to discuss sinus surgery and if it’s right for you. When you meet with one of our sinus specialists, they will review and discuss the benefits and risks of surgery, conduct a comprehensive physical exam and detailed medical history, and often perform a CT exam to assist with the most accurate diagnosis.
Sinus surgery may be the most effective treatment option to improve sinus drainage as the surgeon is able to remove stubborn blockages. During a common procedure called endoscopic sinus surgery, a number of blockages can be addressed:
- Infected, swollen, or damaged tissue
- Bone which narrows the nasal passage
- Growths or polyps inside the nose or sinuses
- Foreign objects blocking the passage (often in children)
- Healthy and inflamed sinuses
Another effective procedure, called balloon sinuplasty (or balloon sinus dilation), eliminates the need to remove bone and tissue. This advanced procedure uses a small flexible tube with a balloon to open up blocked sinus passageways and restore proper drainage. When the balloon is inflated, it restructures and widens the walls of the sinus passageway without harming the sinus lining.
Often, even after surgery, preventive measures including medicine and home treatments are recommended. In some severe cases, an initial surgery may not completely eliminate sinusitis and a second surgery may be recommended.
If you are tired of suffering from sinusitis, schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified ENT specialists.