People spend billions of dollars per year combating allergies, and there are many, often temporary solutions to the problem such as over-the-counter drugs, prescription drugs, either of an antihistamine or decongestant nature or consulting an allergist. But when nothing seems to help, patients often get serious and shop around for a physician who can treat chronic sinus problems.
What is chronic sinusitis?
According to the Mayo Clinic, chronic sinusitis is a condition in which the membranes surrounding the nasal opening become inflamed for 12 weeks or more despite struggles to control the problem through physician therapeutics.
According to the governmental Centers for Disease Control, upwards of 12 percent of the adult population, or close to 39 million adults suffer from chronic sinusitis, so it’s a very common problem.
Many patients with chronic sinusitis try to treat themselves with home remedies but the truth is there are often many factors involved in chronic sinus problems including allergies, bacterial infections, polyps in the sinuses and genetic restrictions in the nasal passages. Only a qualified specialist has the skill to diagnose and treat chronic sinus problems effectively.
Questions your physician will often ask include:
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or just occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms? Describe specifically what happens.
- What seems to improve your symptoms?
- What appears to worsen your symptoms?
The initial treatment plan
Depending upon your answers to the above questions, as well as after doing a thorough workup to rule out problems such as polyps, your doctor will normally recommend the least invasive treatments available first.
There are nasal sprays laced with steroids, antihistamine shots, and allergy shots, nasal irrigation techniques, pain killers, and treatments such as with a hot pack or a vaporizer. But when push comes to shove, the next step is surgery.
What does traditional sinus surgery involve?
According to the American Sinus Institute, traditional sinus surgery generally involves a physician operating on the sinuses in the back of the cheekbones, behind the eyes and the bridge of the nose, or within the nasal cavities themselves. Traditional sinus surgery is no laughing matter. Recovery is often painful, and can as much as two weeks in time-off from work. Traditional surgery is much akin to an engineer building a tunnel through a mountain. The specialist often removes lots of tissue. There is, however, a reason to undergo traditional sinus surgery. If you have a deviated septum or polyps within your nose, traditional sinus surgery is often your only choice for treatment.
Balloon Sinuplasty as an alternative
Since 2005 there has been an alternative to traditional surgery in the form of balloon sinuplasty. In this procedure, which has been performed on over 300,000 patients, a medical balloon is inserted into the nostrils to widen the airways and produce much more natural sinus drainage.
So what’s involved in a balloon sinuplasty?
A patient arrives at the doctor’s office and is generally given a local anesthetic.
Then in a typical 45-minute procedure, the doctor inserts and inflates the medical balloon. Some patients report a slight burning sensation during the procedure, but generally, the discomforts of the patient are mild. While there is generally slight bleeding overnight, by the next morning, most patients report they are ready to go back to work or resume their daily activities. Overall, the surgery is so mild that doctors performing the surgery frequently report the majority of their patients never even fill their painkiller prescriptions.
Which physicians perform balloon sinus surgery?
Both Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists and facial reconstructive plastic surgeons perform the procedure. In actuality, this is sort of a trick question because many ENT doctors also involve themselves in plastic surgery, so the choice is really up to the potential patient. Individuals contemplating balloon sinus surgery should pay attention to factors such as board certification, specialized internships with experienced leaders in the field, and patient reviews, which are often found on the doctor’s website.
In New Jersey, the experts of Becker Ear, Nose, & Throat Center are the specialists you’d want to call. Dr. Becker is board-certified in several facial surgery techniques and has gained expertise in many sinus-related issues, treating patients for sinus surgery in Princeton & Robbinsville.
Becker ENT Center gives patients a complete and thorough explanation of how this surgery works, including the use of videos, and has many glowing reviews from patents who were thrilled with the results of their surgery.
Of course, no amount of reading or research takes the place of a good and frank consultation, and interested patients can contact the doctor either through his website or by phoning his office at 609-436-5740.
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