Sinusitis is a common but often difficult problem affecting 37 million Americans each year, at great cost to patients and society as a whole. Studies have shown sinusitis affects patients just as much as coronary artery disease, COPD/emphysema and low-back pain.
Regardless of cause, the endpoint of sinusitis is inflammation of the mucus membranes (surface tissue) in the nose and paranasal sinuses. This results in any combination of the following:
- Nasal Congestion or Obstruction
- Runny Nose
- Decreased Sense of Smell
- Facial Pain or Headache
- Fever and Generalized Malaise
- Post-Nasal Drip and Cough
- Bad Breath
- Tooth Pain
Making an accurate diagnosis of the actual cause is the key to getting well. The first step is a careful and thoughtful interview, getting at the exact nature of your symptoms. Next, an examination is focused on the lining of the front of the nose and the throat, as well as any swelling or drainage.
What makes an ENT examination of sinusitis truly specialized is a view further back in the nose with an endoscope. Examining the nose with a “scope,” or flexible camera, allows us to see areas not visible from the front. The exam is usually brief and care is taken to make it as easy as possible with the use of a topical decongestant/local anesthetic spray. With the addition of these sprays, the endoscopic exam can be comfortably tolerated right in the office.
Imaging of the sinuses is another useful piece of data, though diagnosis is never made by a scan alone. The nasal anatomy often does not allow a view into the sinuses themselves. CT scanning is the standard means of assessing for inflammation within the sinuses that may not be evident within the nose. Examining the two-dimensional and three-dimensional structure of the sinuses can also provide evidence for why some people have recurrent problems.
The treatment of sinusitis usually begins with medication. The mainstay of the medical treatment is antibiotics. Oral steroids, nasal steroids and nasal saline irrigations may also be added. We are dedicated to operating only when medical management fails, and we continue to develop new and innovative methods of non-surgical topical treatment.
Balloon Sinuplasty is a breakthrough procedure that relieves the pain and pressure associated with chronic sinusitis for patients who are not responding well to medications. In a procedure similar to angioplasty, a balloon is used to open blocked arteries. This procedure is less invasive than traditional sinus surgery and enables most patients to return to normal activities quickly. For more information about this procedure, please visit www.balloonsinuplasty.com.