Helping You Breathe Easier
Have you ever had a cold that just wouldn’t go away? It’s possible you could have sinusitis, or an infection of the sinuses. When these symptoms linger for more than 12 weeks, however, this chronic inflammation be a sign of a more serious issue.
What Is Sinusitis?
There are two types of sinusitis: acute and chronic. When you have acute sinusitis, which is caused by viruses or bacteria, you may have cloudy drainage, generally green or yellow in color, from your nose for up to four weeks.
Other symptoms can include:
- Runny nose
- Stuffy or congested nose
- Pressure or pain near your eyes
- Difficulty breathing, including during sleep
- Symptoms for more than 10 days implies a bacteria infection and may require antibiotics
Chronic sinusitis, on the other hand, is a common condition that causes nasal discharge, facial pain, loss of smell and nasal obstruction, which can make it difficult to breathe. It’s considered to be chronic after symptoms linger for more than 12 weeks.
Northwestern Medicine Otolaryngologist Patrick E. Simon, MD, says, “Sinusitis and chronic sinusitis each have their own constellation of symptoms, but are primarily differentiated by the duration of symptoms.”
These symptoms can be treated with steroid sprays, saline rinses, antibiotics and oral steroids. In some cases, your physician might recommend a balloon sinuplasty. This minimally invasive procedure enlarges, without cutting, the natural sinus openings to improve ventilation and drainage.
When Polyps Occur
Chronic inflammation of the sinus can present in two different forms, either with nasal polyps or without nasal polyps. Nasal polyps are non-cancerous growths that line nasal passages. They can develop after prolonged inflammation but require a genetic disposition as well as environmental factors, says Dr. Simon.
Risk factors include asthma, hay fever and other respiratory allergies, aspirin allergy and chronic rhinitis. Your physician may use a nasal endoscopy or CT imaging to determine the presence of polyps.
Treatment for polyps may vary based on what is causing them. However, steroid sprays and pills are commonly used to try to shrink or remove the polyps entirely.
“We first seek to improve symptom relief, and ultimately, quality of life, with medical therapy. If that proves insufficient there are many different procedural interventions that can be tailored to the individual situation,” says Dr. Simon.
For more complicated cases, endoscopic sinus surgery may be recommended. However, this may not prevent polyps from recurring. More than half of all people who have endoscopic sinus surgery will have recurring symptoms, and one in four will eventually require a second surgery due to the recurrence of nasal polyps.
If you’ve already undergone surgery for polyps and don’t want to have another procedure, a new sinus implant called SINUVATM is now available to help you breathe easier. This implant is designed to open in the sinus cavity to deliver anti-inflammatory medicine (mometasone furoate) over a 90-day period to offer relief. The implant is proven to shrink nasal polyps and reduce sinus obstruction, resulting in improved sense of smell. SINUVA may reduce the need for additional surgeries.
Physicians at Northwestern Medical Group are among the first in Illinois and the Midwest to offer this less invasive treatment option for adults who have already had endoscopic sinus surgery.