Sinusitis affects approximately 37 million* people each year, making it one of the most common health problems in the United States. The Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT)/Otolaryngology physicians at Frankfort Regional Medical Center provide the latest medical treatment options and innovative surgical techniques to bring relief to our patients with chronic sinusitis.
What are the Sinuses?
Sinuses are the air-filled pockets in the areas surrounding the nose. There are four types of sinuses on either side of the face. Each sinus has an opening through which mucus drains. Mucus drainage is a normal process that keeps the sinuses healthy.
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus lining caused by bacterial, viral and/or microbial infections; as well as structural issues like blockages of the sinus opening. If the sinus opening is closed, normal mucus drainage may not occur, which may lead to infection and inflammation of the sinuses.
Types of Sinusitis
There are two main categories of sinusitis: acute and chronic. Sinusitis is usually preceded by a cold, allergy attack or irritation from environmental pollutants. Often, the resulting symptoms, such as nasal pressure, nasal congestion, a “runny nose,” and fever, run their course in a few days. However, if symptoms persist, a bacterial infection or acute sinusitis may develop. If sinusitis occurs frequently or lasts three months or longer, it may be chronic sinusitis.
Symptoms of Sinusitis
Common symptoms include:
- Facial pain and/or pressure
- Nasal congestion or fullness
- Difficulty breathing through the nose
- Discharge of yellow or green mucus from the nose
- Teeth pain
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Sore throat
- Bad breath
Treatment of Sinusitis
Sinusitis is typically treated first with medication. Treatment with antibiotics or topical nasal steroid sprays is often successful in reducing swelling, fighting infection and relieving obstructions of the sinus opening. Inhaling steam or using nasal saline sprays or drops may also help relieve sinus discomfort. However, at least 20 percent of patients do not respond adequately to medications.
Conventional Sinus Surgery
Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) is often the next step toward finding sinusitis relief. Specialized instruments are placed into the nose along with a small endoscope to help the surgeon see inside the nose and nasal cavities. The procedure works by removing bone and tissue to enlarge the sinus opening and may lead to post-operative pain and bleeding that requires uncomfortable nasal packing to control. Approximately 500,000 FESS procedures are performed each year in the United States.
Minimally Invasive Treatment
The surgery is designed to open blocked sinuses without painful tissue or bone removal, using Balloon Sinuplasty™ technology where a small, flexible balloon catheter is snaked through the nostril into the blocked sinus passageway. When the balloon is inflated, it gently restructures and opens the passageway, restoring normal sinus drainage and function. Until recently, sinusitis patients were limited to two treatment options: Medical therapy such as antibiotics and topical nasal steroids or conventional sinus surgery. This surgery is less invasive which means there is less pain, a shorter recovery and better long-term results.
* National Health Interview Survey, 2006; US Census 2007