Many patients suffering from sinus problems, including headaches and drainage, understand the daily frustrations associated with this common condition. Sinus problems can be made worse by allergies, and although they are technically separate diagnoses, their treatments may be interrelated.
Sinus are bony cavities which lie between and below your eyes. They have small openings which connect them to the inside of the nose. Usually air can easily pass from the nose into the sinuses. Occasionally, the nasal membranes swell up because of a cold, allergies, or turbulent airflow. The tiny holes which drain the sinuses into the nose are then closed by the swollen membranes. When this happens, the sinuses become filled with fluid, which can then become infected.
We generally see two kinds of complaints:
- Acute sinusitis – Usually this is treated with a course of antibiotics and most people get better.
- Chronic sinusitis – When patients are off antibiotics, symptoms return.
At the Shea Ear Clinic, we offer patients several options to help reduce sinus episodes, reduce ear fluid, and breath easier. After the surgery, many patients find breathing is much easier.
Sinus surgery is usually an outpatient procedure (meaning you return home the same day as the surgery) and our services include Endoscopic Sinus Surgery, Septoplasty, and Balloon Sinuplasty.
Endoscopic sinus surgery is surgery performed using small telescopes, which are called endoscopes. It usually involves enlarging the natural drainage openings of the sinuses into the nose so that a little bit of swelling due to a cold or allergies will not lead to the sinus becoming blocked off and then filling with fluid.
Balloon Sinuplasty is a procedure in which a small balloon is introduced into the sinus drainage ports and inflated in order to enlarge the port.
Septoplasty is a procedure to straighten the wall which divides the left from the right side of the nose, also called the nasal septum. If crooked, the wall blocks drainage holes as well. If this is the case, the wall is straightened through surgery. Swollen internal nasal membranes are often reduced at the same time. This is known as a turbinate reduction and improves breathing dramatically.
One other effect of a deviated septum may be seen in the ear. The eustachian tube is a small passageway connecting the back of the nose to the middle ear cavity (behind the eardrum). It serves to equalize the pressure between the nose and the ear. If the septum is deviated, causing chronic inflammation, sometimes the opening of the eustachian tube into the nose doesn’t work well. This can cause difficulty clearing the ears and can sometimes lead to fluid behind the eardrum. Occasionally the fluid may even become infected. This can often be helped by straightening the septum and restoring normal airflow patterns within the nose.
Performed under local or general anesthesia, all surgery is done through the nose and there are no external incisions. No packing is used. Occasionally, thin soft plastic splints are inserted and removed on the first postoperative visit. Surgery takes about an hour and patients return home, resuming full schedules after a week.