Frequently Asked Questions for Sinusitis

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What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinus lining. If the sinus opening becomes blocked due to this swelling, normal mucus drainage may not occur, and this may lead to recurrent sinus infections and painful symptoms. Sinusitis can be acute, lasting for less than four weeks, or chronic, lasting longer than 12 weeks. When sinus symptoms either last longer than 12 weeks, or if you experience more than 4 sinus infections each year, you should see an ENT doctor to discuss treatment options.

What is the difference between chronic sinusitis and allergies or colds?

Sinusitis is often preceded by a cold or allergy attack. Colds and allergies can lead to inflamed sinuses, causing the sinus openings to become blocked. This prevents normal mucus drainage and can result in sinusitis.

What are the common symptoms of sinusitis?

Common symptoms of both acute and chronic sinusitis include: 1

  • Facial Pain
  • Tenderness and swelling around the eyes, cheeks, nose and forehead
  • Sinus pressure or congestion
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Loss of the sense of smell or taste
  • Sinus Headache
  • Yellow or green mucus from the nose
  • Teeth pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat from nasal discharge
  • Bad breath

What types of doctors treat chronic sinusitis?

Many types of physicians including general and family practice physicians, pediatricians, and allergists may prescribe medication for sinusitis. However, if you have chronic sinusitis or if your symptoms do not improve with medication, you may be referred to an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) doctor, or Otolaryngologist, who can discuss additional options to treat your chronic sinusitis.

How is Sinusitis Treated?

  • Sinusitis may be treated with natural therapy such as inhaling steam or using saline nasal sprays, or ENT doctors can prescribe medications such as antibiotics and nasal steroid sprays. However, clinical studies show up to 60% of sinusitis sufferers do not get relief with medication. 2 For patients who do not respond adequately to medications, an ENT doctor may recommend either a Balloon Sinuplasty procedure or traditional sinus surgery.
  • Traditional sinus surgery removes bone and tissue to enlarge the sinus opening with the aim of clearing blocked sinuses and restoring normal sinus drainage. With this procedure, sinus surgery recovery may be associated with pain and scarring.
  • Balloon Sinuplasty is an innovative, minimally invasive procedure that ENT doctors use to treat patients with sinusitis. A tiny balloon is placed into the nose to reach the blocked sinuses and then inflated to restructure the sinus opening. The procedure is safe and effective.

Sources:

  1. http://www.entnet.org/content/sinusitis - Accessed July 19, 2011
  2. Hamilos, D. Chronic sinusitis. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2000; 106: 213-227; Stankiewicz, J., et al,. Cost Analysis in the Diagnosis of Chronic Rhinosinusitis. Am J Rhinol 2003;17(3): 139-142; Subramanian, H., et al. A Retrospective Analysis of Treatment Outcomes and Time to Relapse after Intensive Medical Treatment for Chronic Sinusitis. Am J Rhinol 2002; 16(6): 303-312; Hessler, J., et al. Clinical outcomes of chronic rhinosinusitis in response to medical therapy: Results of a prospective study. Am J Rhinol 2007; 21(1): 10-18; Lal, D., et al. Efficacy of targeted medical therapy in chronic rhinosinusitis, and predictors of failure. Am J Rhinol Allergy 23, 396-400, 2009.