Questions about sinusitis? This UK ENT doctor has answers.
Written by Dr. Alok Saini, a physician in the UK Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic, who specializes in treating conditions that affect the nose, sinuses and anterior skull base.
Suffering from a bout of sinusitis can be a miserable experience that leaves you stuck in bed and less productive. Unlike the common cold, sinusitis can leave you feeling unwell for weeks.
Sinusitis, which affects millions of people, is an infection or swelling that occurs anywhere in your sinuses.The sinuses are air-filled portions of bone that sit in your cheeks, in your forehead, between your eyes and below your brain.
If you or a family member becomes sick with sinusitis, here is what you should know about this condition and how it is treated.
What are the symptoms of sinusitis?
The symptoms of sinusitis can be very similar to symptoms caused by other nasal conditions. Symptoms can include:
- Runny nose.
- Stuffy nose.
- Pain or pressure in your cheeks, forehead or between the eyes.
- Trouble smelling.
- Drainage in your throat.
Are there different kinds of sinusitis?
Sinusitis is divided into two categories: acute and chronic.
Acute sinusitis is what most people call a sinus infection. This infection lasts less than four weeks.
Chronic sinusitis is a sinus infection with symptoms persisting for more than 12 weeks. While some forms of chronic sinusitis are due to infections, it is more common that the condition is due to inflammation. This inflammation typically results from your immune system overreacting to normal substances within your sinus cavity.
How will I be evaluated?
Because the symptoms overlap, it can be beneficial to have your ENT doctor perform a nasal endoscopy, which is a procedure to evaluate the sinus drainage pathways by placing a camera in your nose. This will determine if your symptoms are caused by sinusitis or another condition.
A CT scan of your sinuses might also be necessary.
Both of these tests will help you and your physician put together an appropriate treatment plan.
Will I need a procedure or surgery?
For patients with acute sinusitis, surgery is not required unless you are experiencing more than four infections a year or if you have a complication, such as involvement of your eye, meningitis or brain abscess.
For patients with chronic sinusitis, sinus surgery can reduce the inflammation levels within the sinuses. Surgery can also increase the effectiveness of saline irrigations and topical steroids.
What procedures are available?
For most patients, especially with moderate or severe levels of disease, minimally invasive endoscopic sinus surgery can be beneficial. This surgery is typically done under general anesthesia using special cameras and instruments that allow for the entire procedure to be carried out completely through the nose without any facial incisions.