Minimally Invasive Sinus surgery: What is balloon sinuplasty?
Many people suffer from nasal congestion and other breathing difficulties. This can be caused by many things, most commonly infection, allergies, and anatomic factors. Other symptoms of these conditions include facial pressure, headache, postnasal drip, cough and runny nose. It is our job to help distinguish between the possible causes and help diagnose and treat the underlying problem. Breathing problems can be temporary or chronic, mild or severe, but they usually increase with age.
Sinusitis is an infection of the sinuses, which are air spaces within our head. We have four sets of sinuses and infection can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or even fungi. A sinus infection can be "acute", which typically resolves in less than 4 weeks with or without treatment. A sinus infection can become "chronic" when infection lasts longer than 12 weeks. Often this is the result of inflammation from the infection causing blockage of the sinuses and preventing proper drainage. Sinusitis is typically treated with antibiotics. Cultures are sometimes taken to identify and help treat the infection. When infections do not clear with antibiotic treatment, surgery is sometimes necessary to allow proper drainage of the sinuses and to help clear the infection. This is done by a variety of methods including using a balloon to dilate the blocked sinuses or alternatively endoscopic surgery under anesthesia.
Allergic Rhinitis is also a very common problem. This is a condition in which your body has developed a sensitivity to certain things in the environment such as pollen, molds, pet dander, among other things. The result is inflammation of the nasal and sinus tissues causing congestion, post-nasal drip, and cough. This can be managed with a variety of medications to minimize sensitivity to these allergens and prevent the resulting inflammation. There are also methods to test for allergies and desensitize people to these allergens.
Anatomic factors such as a deviated septum or turbinate hypertrophy can cause difficulty breathing. These can be present at birth or the result of injuries to the nose. The septum is the cartilage in the middle of the nose that gives support to the nose and divides the nasal cavity into left and right sides. This can be deviated, or crooked, causing difficulty breathing to the affected side. If this is the case this can be surgically corrected to improve breathing. The turbinates are structures inside the nose that warm and moisten the air that we breathe. These can become hypertrophic, or swollen, as a result of allergies or frequent infections. This can often be corrected with medication and in some cases surgery to decrease their size and swelling.
Click here to learn more about breathing problems you may be experiencing.