You’ve probably experienced sinusitis at some point in your life, but might not know what it is or how it can be treated. Unfortunately, some people even suffer from it chronically and find little relief. The sinuses are an important part of the body’s various systems, and living with ill or non-functioning sinuses can be miserable. Here’s what you should know about this condition and what you can do about it.
What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is an infection in the sinuses, which are important glands in the face that keep the nose and respiratory pathways moisturized. They are located near the nose and can most commonly become swollen and infected during a common cold. Chronic sinusitis can extend for longer than this, though, and can exhibit some signs to watch out for. These can include congestion and discolored drainage, facial pain (including teeth) or headache, and difficulty breathing through the nose.
What Causes It?
Generally, sinusitis is caused by infection, which in turn causes the opening of the sinuses to become swollen. This can prevent drainage of normal mucus, which can cause the infection to remain since the mucus can’t carry it out of the body. This is usually labeled recurrent sinusitis, since these symptoms flare up every few weeks. Other kinds include acute (which normally accompanies a cold or flu) and chronic.
What Are My Treatment Options?
It’s important to understand what causes the sinusitis— it can be either a bacterial infection or viral. Viral infections cannot be treated with antibiotics and can require pain relief medication and steps to alleviate symptoms while it runs its course. Sinus surgery can be an option in extreme cases, usually using an endoscope and small tools to remove the affected tissue blocking the sinus passageway. The preferred and most effective treatment is the balloon sinuplasty, which is non-invasive and utilizes a balloon placed within the sinus passageway where it’s then inflated. This dilates the passage and allows for drainage. Most patients find immediate relief with this technique.