As anyone who’s ever suffered with sinusitis will know, it can be horribly painful.
The sinuses are small cavities in the in the upper part of the face. They sit between between the eyes and at the top of the nose and in the cheeks. They lighten the skull and help with nasal breathing and mucus flow. When the lining of the sinuses become infected or inflamed, thick yellow/green mucus is produced, resulting in blockages and a build-up of pressure and congestion. You may also suffer from a relentless face ache that can spread to the teeth and leave you feeling wretched!
Thankfully, acute sinus infections usually clear up after two to three weeks. They can be eased with painkillers and nasal sprays. Some people find steaming helpful too. A combination of steroids and antibiotics may be required for more stubborn bacterial infections. But for some, sinusitis can become chronic and surgical options might be considered.
Do you need surgery?
Sinusitis is very common, and only a small fraction of people affected will end up having surgery. It’s generally only considered if the problem is ongoing and other methods of treatment haven’t helped. But even then, the first step is to try and determine what’s causing the issue – and this involves discussing your symptoms and medical history with a specialist. You will need an examination of the nose and possibly a CT scan to see what’s going on inside your sinuses. Sometimes other factors might be involved: for example, people with asthma and certain allergies can be more prone to sinus issues, so ensuring these things are being well managed can be useful. But sometimes there are abnormalities within the nose, such as nasal polyps or a deviated septum (where the bone and cartilage down the centre of the nose is crooked or off centre), restricting mucus flow and causing blockages.
What are the surgical options?
The Face Surgeons offers two key types of surgery for people with chronic sinus pain and congestion. Endoscopic sinus surgery – which involves inserting an endoscope into the nasal passages to restore proper drainage – and balloon sinuplasty, where a small medical balloon is carefully inserted and inflated, in order to widen the space and enable better drainage within the affected sinuses. Also, if a deviated septum is involved, for instance, surgery to correct this could be an option.
Will surgery cure the problem?
There’s never a 100% guarantee that surgery will be an absolute fix for everybody, but for people suffering with chronic sinusitis where other treatments haven’t helped, it can certainly be a worthwhile consideration. It’s important to discuss exactly what’s involved and any associated risks beforehand and what to expect after the procedure, so you can be sure you’re making an informed decision about whether to go ahead with sinusitis surgery.
Are you considering surgery for chronic sinusitis? Make an appointment to talk to our ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist – Miss Sarah Little.