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When The Infection Won’t Go Away

Most people have experienced a cold that turns into a sinus infection. Also called sinusitis, sinus infections can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as congestion, nasal pressure, mucus drainage, and coughing. For most people, sinus infections are infrequent, occurring may once per year. However, in some patients, sinus infections occur multiple times per year or last for more than a few weeks at a time which is referred to as chronic sinusitis. People with chronic sinusitis are often good candidates for sinus surgeries such as endoscopic sinus surgery or the balloon sinuplasty.

Minimally invasive surgery benefits

Both endoscopic sinus surgery and the balloon sinuplasty are minimally invasive procedures. This means that the surgeon typically does not need to make any external incisions to perform the procedure. Both these procedures are often performed as outpatient surgeries, meaning the patient can return home that same day. Both focus on treating the underlying cause of chronic sinus problems, instead of decreasing symptoms.

What is endoscopic surgery?

Endoscopic sinus surgery involves the use of an endoscope, or a flexible lighted tube, to view the sinuses. Typically, a camera is attached to the endoscope so that the surgeon can see inside the nose. Through the use of small instruments inserted through the nasal passages, the surgeon can remove damaged tissue, bone spurs, or any tissue that is obstructing the nasal passages.

Balloon sinuplasty

A balloon sinuplasty is a procedure to open nasal airways and improve mucus drainage. The procedure is a type of endoscopic surgery and involves inserting a small balloon in the nasal passages to open up the airways. Sinuplasty is less than 15 years old and is quickly becoming a leading option for treating chronic sinusitis.

Why consider sinus surgery?

Most people who have sinus infections don’t require surgery. However, some people experience constant inflammation in the sinuses, leading to multiple, extended episodes of sinusitis. This can lead to difficulty breathing, pain, swelling, nasal discharge, and a reduced sense of smell. For these patients, sinus surgery can be a highly effective treatment.

Do I need surgery more than once?

Research has found that sinus surgery can reduce sinusitis symptoms long-term. A recent study showed 15 out of 15 adults reported improved sinus symptoms 3-6 months after surgery and no side effects. The surgery can be beneficial for children as well. Other studies have found long-term positive effects of reducing sinus symptoms in children, with almost 80% not needing future sinus surgery.

An ENT can help

An otolaryngologist or ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists routinely perform both endoscopic sinus surgery and balloon sinuplasty. Patients who have chronic sinus problems may consider sinus surgery for long-term symptom relief. Consulting with an ENT is typically the best option to determine the treatment plan.