More than 37 million Americans have chronic sinusitis, a condition more commonly known as sinus infections. “People can experience sinusitis several times a year, which can be quite debilitating,” says Jesse Wardlow, MD, an otolaryngologist with Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital. People with sinusitis experience:
- Nasal or post-nasal drainage
- Facial pain or pressure
- Nasal congestion
- Decreased sense of smell
In the past, patients had to weigh the pros and cons of dealing with frequent infections versus going through sinus surgery. Endoscopic sinus surgery has been around for years and the surgical techniques and technology are constantly being improved. Since doctors began performing a procedure called sinuplasty in 2005, patients have been experiencing a much faster and easier recovery.
“Sinuplasty is an innovative technology that can help treat sinusitis by increasing the size of the sinus opening with minimum tissue and bone removal,” says Dr. Wardlow. In addition to people with sinusitis, sinuplasty can also help people who have anatomic conditions, such as narrow sinuses. “The concept of sinuplasty is similar to angioplasty, where a balloon expands a narrowed or blocked artery in the heart.”
During sinuplasty, doctors use an endoscope to guide a wire carrying a balloon into the sinuses. Once the balloon is inflated and removed, the sinuses stay open while leaving the lining of the nose unharmed. In traditional sinus surgery, nasal tissue and bone are removed, which lengthens recovery time.
Total recovery time for sinuplasty is four to six weeks but patients can return to regular activity in about four days. With traditional sinus surgery, total recovery takes about six to eight weeks.
Dr. Wardlow says candidates for sinuplasty have around four sinus infections per year. For many people whose symptoms are not that severe, he offers the following suggestions to help prevent sinusitis flare-ups:
- Drink plenty of water
- Use a humidifier in the bedroom
- Use over-the-counter medications, such as saline nasal sprays, to help remove mucus from the nose and reduce congestion
- Eat a diet high in antioxidants, including dark-colored fruits and vegetables
- Wash your hands and avoid people who are suffering from a cold
- Avoid tobacco smoke
“Because allergens can also provoke a sinus infection, make sure your allergies are under control this spring,” says Dr. Wardlow. “Talking with your doctor is the first step in managing sinus conditions.”
For more information, or to find a physician, call us at 866-533-7968.