Nonsurgical Treatment for Chronic Sinusitis
Sinusitis, more commonly known as a sinus infection, impacts an estimated 3 million Americans every year. Typically, sinusitis will resolve on its own. Natural remedies, such as steam treatments and oil diffusion, combined with over the counter medication and lots of rest, often allow sufferers of this common disorder to ride the worst of the infection out. However, not everyone is nearly so lucky.
Chronic sinusitis is the name given to a sinus infection that fails to respond to treatment and rest, and lasts for a period of 12 or more weeks. While not nearly as common as a routine sinus infection, chronic sinusitis frequently occurs in young and middle-aged adults — and may be exacerbated polyps in the nasal cavity and structural issues such as a deviated septum.
Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis
One of the biggest indicators of a sinus infection is thick nasal and postnasal discharge. This discharge may be greenish or yellowish in color, but that is not always the case. Additional symptoms of sinusitis include:
· Pressure, pain, or tenderness in the nasal cavity, behind the eyes, or in the forehead
· Nasal congestion or obstruction and difficulties breathing
· Ear pain without the presence of infection
· Coughing that gets worse at night
· Sore throat
· Upper palate or tooth pain
· Bad breath that does not respond to brushing
Nausea, fatigue, and irritability may also accompany chronic sinusitis.
Symptoms of chronic sinus infection may get worse over time and are often resistant to antibiotics, homeopathic remedies, and over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications. When the problem persists, medical intervention may be the only way to eliminate infection and restore comfort.
Treating Chronic Sinusitis
Traditionally antibiotic-resistant sinus infections are treated through endoscopic surgery. With this procedure, a small tube is inserted into the sinus cavity, allowing your doctor to determine what is causing the blockage. Depending on the cause, surgical instruments may be used to shave polyps or surgically modify the nasal passages, allowing for complete drainage of the infection.
While relatively routine, treating chronic sinusitis through surgery comes with the same risks as any surgical procedure. These include:
· Excessive bleeding
· Improper wound healing
· Anesthesia risks
Despite these risks, thousands of people undergo sinus surgery every year with little to no complication. However, assuming surgical risks to treat chronic sinus infection is entirely unnecessary. Balloon Sinuplasty offers a nonsurgical, time-tested, and highly-effective alternative to surgery, and its popularity and availability are on the rise.
What is Balloon Sinuplasty
Balloon sinuplasty is a procedure that opens sinus passages without cutting, scraping, or surgically modifying their structure. During balloon sinuplasty, a small, hypoallergenic balloon is inserted into the blocked sinus, where it can be inflated to a size that allows gentle drainage of the infection. By compacting the walls of the sinuses, this balloon widens passages just enough to allow a saline rinse to flush any remaining mucus before you leave your doctor’s office.
Balloon sinuplasty is done without general anesthesia, eliminating the risks of adverse reaction to these medications. Because there is no cutting or scraping, sutures, nasal packaging and other postoperative discomforts are avoided as well, and most people are able to resume all normal activities — including breathing comfortably — within 48 hours. During your chronic sinus infection treatment consultation, your doctor can provide you with additional information about post-procedure care that will help guard against a recurrence of infection.
Recovering from Balloon Sinuplasty
Balloon sinuplasty recovery is typically completed within 48 hours. Some swelling and bruising may continue for a few days longer, but these things subside naturally as the nasal passages recover from both the initial infection and the treatment required to remove it.
During your recovery period, OTC pain medications may be needed to address discomfort. This is not the case for every patient, but it not entirely uncommon either. In addition to minor discomfort, some discharge may continue to drain throughout the recovery period. You can assist this process by flushing your passages with a neti pot or another approved device.
Who can Perform Balloon Sinuplasty?
Just like you would choose a podiatrist for chronic foot pain, chronic sinusitis should be treated by an Ear Nose and Throat doctor (ENT). Only someone who has undergone the training necessary to understand chronic sinus problems will be properly equipped to find the most effective solution for your needs.
Choosing a board-certified ENT is the best way to ensure your doctor has the training, experience, and qualifications necessary to produce the most pleasing results. When selecting a doctor, be sure to check her or his qualifications to ensure you are working with a professional who will protect your comfort, respect your needs, and provide you with the services best suited to restore complete and lasting comfort.