Is It Allergies, a Cold or Sinusitis?
Your nose is congested and it’s hard to breathe. Thick mucus irritates the back of your throat. Your face, head and even your teeth hurt from the pressure. You’re losing your sense of smell and taste. You’re incredibly tired and irritable. You think that it must be yet another cold or allergy attack again this year. You take allergy or cold medicines to relieve your symptoms but they don’t help. Finally, you see your primary care physician or general practitioner.
After listening to your history of symptoms and conducting an exam the doctor says you have acute sinusitis, which is a temporary inflammation of the sinus lining that is caused by a bacterial infection and commonly called a sinus infection. Your doctor may recommend saline nasal sprays, antibiotics, nasal steroid sprays, decongestants and over‐the‐counter pain relievers to help relieve the condition. However, if you experience symptoms for longer than 12 weeks you could have chronic sinusitis.
The Treatment of Chronic Sinusitis
If chronic sinusitis is suspected, your doctor most likely will refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) physician (an otolaryngology specialist). The ENT physician uses several methods to help screen for chronic sinusitis: visual inspection, nasal endoscopy, CT scan, or nasal and sinus cultures. After diagnosing chronic sinusitis and identifying a possible cause, your ENT will often begin with medical management which may include: Decongestants, Nasal steroids, Antibiotics, Mucus thinning drugs and/or Oral steroids.
Healthcare professionals often find it difficult to treat the majority of chronic sinusitis sufferers with medication. In fact, it is estimated that up to 60 percent of chronic sinusitis sufferers are not successfully treated with medication. Patients who do not respond well to medications become candidates for conventional sinus surgery, which is known as functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS). Since the 1980s, FESS has been the standard of care for sinus surgery. FESS aims to clear blocked sinuses and restore normal sinus drainage by removing bone and tissue to enlarge the sinus opening, which may lead to pain, scarring and bleeding.
However, conventional sinus surgery no longer has to be the only option for chronic sinusitis patients who are not responding well to medications. Balloon Sinuplasty™ is a breakthrough procedure that relieves the pain and pressure associated with chronic sinusitis. It is used by surgeons to safely and effectively treat chronic sinusitis patients who are not responding well to medications and are seeking relief from uncomfortable and painful sinusitis symptoms. The procedure is less invasive than traditional sinus surgery. It allows most patients to return to normal activities quickly. With Balloon Sinuplasty, a specially‐designed catheter is inserted into the nose to reach the inflamed sinus cavity. A small balloon is slowly inflated, which widens and restructures the walls of the sinus passage, helping to drain mucus from the blocked sinus and restore normal sinus drainage without cutting and with minimal bleeding. This approach also preserves the natural structure of the sinuses.
Balloon Sinuplasty is performed under general anesthesia in an outpatient setting; however, some surgeons are choosing to treat certain patients in their office under local anesthesia. The reported complication rate for Balloon Sinuplasty is low. Patients who suffer from chronic sinusitis and are not responding well to medications may benefit from seeing an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) physician who performs Balloon Sinuplasty to determine if the procedure is right for them. Most insurance companies and Medicare provide coverage for Balloon Sinuplasty.
Click here for more information about Balloon Sinuplasty
To learn more about chronic sinusitis, visit the American Academy of Otolaryngology ‐ Head and Neck Surgery (www.entnet.org).
Balloon Sinuplasty is intended for use by or under the direction of a doctor. There are associated risks, including tissue and mucosal trauma, infection, or possible optic injury. Interested individuals should speak with their doctor about the risks and benefits and to determine whether Balloon Sinuplasty is right for them.