Sinus trouble is painful and annoying to say the least. Pressure builds up in your face and your nose feels like it is filled with concrete! Most people suffer through this at least once or twice in their life but some experience this type of pain over and over again with little or no relief.

What is Sinusitis?

Most people have eight sinuses that connect through channels to their nose. The channels are there to allow drainage from the sinuses to escape through the nose, but sometimes these channels become blocked. This blockage can be caused by inflamed mucous membranes or in the case of acute rhinosinusitis, an infection. Symptoms of sinusitis include:

  • Stuffed up or stopped up nose
  • Pain, or pressure in the face (especially the forehead and cheek bone area)
  • Yellowish or greenish mucus discharge from the nose
  • Pain in the teeth or jaw
  • Loss of the sense of taste and/or smell
  • Headache typically centered over the eyes and/or cheek bones

How is Sinusitis Treated?

The first line of defense against sinusitis is typically over the counter decongestant medications that shrink the inflamed mucous membranes. Saline nasal sprays help wash out mucus and sooth mucous membranes with little or no side effects.

If you have an infection in your sinus cavities your doctor will probably prescribe oral antibiotics to cure the infection and oral or nasal spray steroids to shrink inflamed tissue.

For some people conservative treatment is not sufficient to relieve the symptoms of sinusitis or rhinosinusitis. In these cases a more invasive procedure is needed to combat the problem. Endoscopic sinus surgery has become a popular procedure that offers good results with less pain and a shorter recovery than traditional sinus surgery.

What is Balloon Sinuplasty?

Balloon sinuplasty offers another option in the surgical correction of chronic sinusitis or rhinosinusitis. This surgery is even less invasive than traditional endoscopic sinus surgery and can offer shorter recovery periods with less pain for many patients.

This procedure uses an instrument similar to the one used to open clogged arteries during angioplasty. The balloon sinuplasty catheter is inserted through the nose and threaded into blocked channels where it is gently inflated to clear the blockage by pushing aside bone and tissue that is closing off the channel. In this procedure there is no removal of bone or tissue so it is a much less invasive surgery. Most patients are able to return to normal activity within a couple of days and experience relief that can last as long as the more invasive surgical procedures.

Is Balloon Sinuplasty Right for Me?

Balloon sinuplasty must be performed by an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon that has been trained in the procedure. Talk to your ENT in order to determine if you could benefit from this surgical treatment.

By Ramie A Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT