What is Chronic Sinusitis?
Chronic Sinusitis is a sinus infection that’s been present for more than 12 weeks. Some patients can have this for years. Crazy, we know, but we see it all the time. It’s actually the most common type of sinus infection we treat. Common symptoms such as congestion, post-nasal drainage, stuffy nose, and sinus headaches can all be due to a chronic sinus infection. Since chronic sinus infections generally are not associated with fever most patients don't consider that their long-term sinus symptoms could be related to an infection.
Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis
We treat sinus problems for a living, and experience has taught us that no two sinus patients suffer from the same symptoms. Here’s a list of common complaints.
- Fatigue, disrupted sleep, Inability to take in air through one or both sides of the nose
- Nasal drainage
- Nasal obstruction, blocked sinuses
- Post nasal drip, sometimes with a sore throat
- Runny nose
- Headaches or facial pain
- Pressure that may worsen when bending over
- Discolored nasal drainage (green or yellow)
- Nasal congestion
- Mouth breathing
- Sore upper teeth
- Ear pain
- Sore eyes
How Do We Diagnose Sinusitis?
Too often, we see patients who have been on medications for weeks, months and years wasting time and money without ever really getting a proper diagnosis. Dr. Atkins has developed an in-office process that quickly and accurately diagnoses the cause of your problems. He begins with a careful review of your medical history and can perform a variety of diagnostic tests, including an in office CT scan of the sinuses, nasal endoscopy, and allergy testing when needed.
CT Scan (Cat Scan) for Sinus Problems
CT scans are used to detect an infection, a deviated septum, sinus polyps, narrow sinus passages, and other abnormal sinus anatomy. It takes about 20 seconds, has 90 percent less radiation than a traditional CT scan, and it's much less expensive. CT scans are covered by most insurance companies, and because the scans are done in-office the results are ready in as little as a few minutes, so you can leave our office with a diagnosis
Nasal endoscopy is a quick, non-invasive procedure that allows us to look inside your nose using a small telescope. This exam is used as an aid to help diagnose nasal and sinus problems such as swelling or inflammation, polyps, infection, bleeding, a deviated septum and allergies and to assess the overall health of the lining of your nose. Prior to the exam, we spray your nose with a nasal decongestant and a numbing medicine. Then a thin tube is placed in your nose, and the structures of your nose are examined.
Allergies make you more susceptible to sinus problems. We offer allergy testing to help determine how much of your problem is allergy related. Testing is done on your forearm and takes 20 minutes. The test is painless, we do not use needles, and allergy testing is covered by most insurance plans.
For some patients, we check their vitamin D levels.
Nasal cultures are sometimes performed to find the correct antibiotic.
Dr. Atkins may recommend checking your immune system.
Treatment for Chronic Sinusitis
Medication for Sinus Infections
Some medications, such as prescription antibiotics, are taken for several weeks, while others, such as antihistamines, may have to be taken longer.
Surgery Options for Chronic Sinusitis
When medications are no longer effective enough, surgery needs to be considered. Dr. Atkins has been an advocate of minimally invasive sinus surgery procedures. With newer technology and great advances in surgical treatments, sinus surgery is much less invasive.
Balloon Sinuplasty (BSP) is an easy, quick procedure done at our office under IV sedation for the treatment of chronic and recurrent sinus infections, as well as sinus headaches and sinus pain.
Traditional Sinus Surgery
Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) means removing diseased and obstructing sinus tissue while viewing the procedure with an endoscope.FESS is more invasive than a balloon sinuplasty because patients who need a FESS usually have a more extensive disease that BSP can’t help.
Some patients can undergo a "hybrid" procedure where the most diseased tissue is removed with a shaver (FESS) and the less diseased tissue is dilated with a balloon (BSP).
Long-Term Outcomes for Sinus Patients
Many of the patients we see are treated for a short time, recover, and never need to see us again. Others with underlying allergies or disease problems are able to get back on track with a course of daily sinus medicine. Remember, our goal is to make you feel better without surgery.