More than 30 million Americans suffer from sinusitis each year. Sinusitis occurs when the tissue that lines the sinuses becomes inflamed, preventing mucus from draining and making it easier for bacteria, viruses and fungi to grow undeterred. Symptoms of sinusitis generally include: a blocked or runny nose, pain and tenderness in the face, fever, cough, and pressure in the ears.
Sinusitis often develops as a result of a common cold or allergies. However, unlike a cold or allergies, sinus infections can lead to chronic inflammation in the sinus cavities and can cause long-lasting problems.
There are three main types of sinusitis:
With acute sinusitis, symptoms typically last less than a month but can go on for up to six weeks. With chronic sinusitis, symptoms can last for more than 6 weeks. Recurrent sinusitis is when a patient has several sinus infections within a year. Both chronic and recurrent sinusitis often require an evaluation by an otolaryngologist or ENT.
Treatment for sinusitis can include antibiotic therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and nasal sprays, depending on the severity of the infection. Patients are often urged to use a humidifier, drink plenty of fluids, and inhale steam several times a day.
For infections that do not go away, even after prolonged treatment, additional tests are sometimes required in order to rule out other medical conditions. For example, a doctor may choose to order a blood test, a sinus culture, an allergy test, or even a CT scan in order to determine the cause of the infection. Patients that do not respond to medical therapy may even require surgery.
Dr. Wallace specializes in the evaluation and medical treatment of sinus diseases. He offers new, minimally invasive sinus procedures and surgery options – many of which can be performed in the office, resulting in a faster recovery time for patients.
Endoscopic sinus surgery can be done to remove nasal polyps or bone spurs that obstruct sinus drainage, as well as to burn away tissue that is blocking the sinus opening. Surgery is also an option for patients whose chronic sinusitis is brought on by a deviated septum.
In some chronic sinusitis cases, enlarging the sinus opening is also recommended. To do this, an operation is performed that involves pushing a small balloon into the blocked sinus through a flexible tube in the nostril, inflating the balloon once it is in the blocked area, then deflating it and removing it. This widens the sinus drainage channel and allows it to drain properly.