Almost nothing is more aggravating than perpetually blocked sinuses. Sinusitis, or sinus infections, afflict a lot of people, particularly after a cold or flu. They can also be a result of nasal allergies, which afflict about 50 million people in America. Sinusitis is one of the most common health problems in the United States, hitting 37 million people a year; and chronic sinusitis sends people in America to the doctor 18-22 million times a year.
How Serious is a Sinus Infection?
Ear nose and throat specialists usually categorize sinus infections into several types. An acute infection lasts less than four weeks, while a subacute bout of sinusitis lasts from four to 12 weeks. If an ENT finds your sinus infection going beyond 12 weeks, it will be classified as chronic. A chronic sinus infection may need more serious treatment. If your nasal cavities remain infected and swollen beyond a couple weeks, and especially if they’re causing facial pain, it’s important to see a doctor if you haven’t already. If your nasal discharge is thick and green or yellow, this is also a sign you need a doctor.
What are the Treatment Options?
Acute sinusitis is usually treated with traditional medical therapy like antibiotics, steroids, antihistamines, nasal sprays, and decongestants. Once the sinus infection becomes chronic, though, at least one in five patients will not find these treatments successful. The next recommendation will be something like surgery or balloon sinuplasty.
What are the Surgery Options?
Traditional surgery is generally used to remove obstructive tissue in the nasal passages so they will drain more effectively. This is usually done under general anesthesia and by endoscopy. It usually takes three to five days to recover, and post-operative care is just as essential as the surgery in getting a positive outcome.
What is Balloon Sinuplasty?
While classified as a surgery, balloon sinuplasty is a relatively new, non-invasive procedure that has been in use since 2005. The surgeon enters the sinus via an endoscope and inserts a deflated balloon. The balloon is inflated carefully and briefly to widen the opening into the sinus cavity, and then quickly deflated and taken out. This usually allows the sinuses to drain much better, and most people can return to their normal routine within two days. In fact, 95% of people treated with balloon sinuplasty report that it provides good relief.
When breathing is difficult, everything else in life becomes more difficult, too. If you’ve suffered a long time with blocked sinuses, maybe it’s time to stop putting up with the frustration and pain and get treatment that can give you back easy breathing.