What are the sinuses?
Sinuses are spaces in the skull that are lined with tissue (mucosa). Small passages (osteomeatal complexes) connect the sinuses with the inside of the nose. The sinuses are shown below:
What is sinusitis?
When allergies, a deviated septum, or common cold prevent the sinuses from draining normally, a sinus infection (sinusitis) can occur. Because the draining spaces inside the nose are millimeters or less in size, even a small amount of swelling can cause sinusitis. A head cold that lasts more than a few days may be undiagnosed sinusitis. Click here to read more about sinusitis.
What is acute sinusitis?
Inflammation of the paranasal sinuses lasting less than four weeks is an acute sinus infection. The infection may be caused by a virus which might resolve without antibiotics. When the infection lasts over a week or the severity of symptoms dramatically worsens, the infection may have become bacterial.
What is chronic sinusitis?
A sinus infection lasting greater than 3 months has become a chronic sinus infection. The type of bacteria tend to be more varied than during acute sinusitis and antibiotic treatment is controversial. Controlling inflammation within the sinuses is the current preferred management. The two varieties of chronic sinusitis are with and without nasal polyps.
What are the signs and symptoms of sinusitis?
Thick drainage from the nose- Infected mucus is abnormally thick, green or yellow in color, and sometimes has a foul odor. Infected mucus can drain from the nose or be coughed up.
Headache or sinus pain- Pressure from blockage of the small sinus cavities can cause severe facial pain, headaches, toothaches, or nasal congestion.
Repeated infections- Tissue thickening inside the sinuses can narrow the passages. The bacteria inside the nose may become resistant to antibiotics.
Fatigue- Constantly fighting an infection drains the body’s energy and can interfere with the ability to get a good night’s sleep. Click here to read more about the symptoms of sinusitis.
How is sinusitis treated?
Successful treatment of an acute sinus infection is often possible using antibiotics directed toward the most likely causes of infection. Failure of antibiotics may require further testing, including a CT scan of the sinuses. Additional improvement can come from a combination of anti-allergy medication, decongestants, nasal sprays, and saline rinses. Environmental controls, such as removing your carpet or using an air purifier, can also decrease symptoms. Click here to read more about sinusitis treatment.
When is surgery necessary?
When medical treatment has failed, sinus surgery can dramatically improve your quality of life and sense of well-being. Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) removes blockages, allowing each sinus to ventilate and drain through its natural opening.
What kind of sinus surgeries are there?
Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) is the current standard of care for minimally invasive sinus surgery. Infected and hyperplastic tissue is removed and the natural circulation within the sinuses re-established during a FESS. For a small select group of patients, the balloon sinuplasty surgery may be appropriate where a guide-wire and balloon are used to open a sinus without tissue removal. Rarely, for recalcitrant sinus infections, traditional sinus surgery with skin or intraoral incisions are needed.
Click here to read more about when to have sinus surgery as well as more on FESS, Balloon Sinuplasty, or Traditional Sinus Surgery.
How is the recovery from sinus surgery?
With Dr. Bennett’s advanced surgical techniques, placement of packing in the nasal cavities (and the associated) discomfort is rarely necessary. This improves the overall experience and contributes to a more rapid recovery. Patients typically return to normal activity in 7-10 days. Click here to read more about sinus surgery recovery.