Written by Peggy Ng, Clinical Application Specialist at Easmed
How many times have you caught a cold and found it difficult to proceed with your usual day to day activities because of the stuffy nose, the bothersome nasal drip, and the very bad headache? And worse, come night time, your blocked nose would still keep you from getting that good night’s rest after a tiring day. You would just be tossing and turning in bed, trying to find a position that will somehow relieve that stuffy nose of yours, but most of the time these do not even help. How can something as simple as breathing be so hard?
First off, what is this condition that makes you suffer so much? What is sinusitis?
Sinusitis is an inflammation of a nasal sinus usually caused by a virus, or a bacteria, or even a fungus. The sinuses’ main function is to produce a mucus to protect the nose from pollutants and dirt. These are then drained out of the nose via a sinus passage in your nose.
What causes sinusitis?
An infection of the sinuses, or growths in the sinuses called nasal polyps, or swelling of the lining of the sinuses.
What happens when I have sinusitis?
When you have a sinus infection, you may have nasal discharge that ranges from light yellow to green. You may also feel facial pain and/or congestion in your nose and/or headaches.
Sinusitis may also cause loss of smell and/or taste, post nasal drips which is disruptive to daily life.
Take this quiz to find out if you may be suffering from sinusitis: https://sinussurgeryoptions.com/
How can chronic sinusitis affect my quality of life?
Studies have proven that patients suffering from chronic sinusitis can experience impaired quality of life as compared to normal people. Chronic sinusitis is also related to decreased quality of sleep due to congestion of the nose and impairing normal breathing during sleep.
Chronic sinusitis is found to decrease productivity due to increased absenteeism in work or school because of symptoms or fatigue.
Video: Patient’s perspective: Quality of Life
How is chronic sinusitis diagnosed?
If you have symptoms of sinusitis that lasts more than 10 days, longer than a common cold should last, or symptoms that keeps coming back, you may want to see an ENT specialist who is able to accurately diagnose if you have sinusitis.
A CT scan allows your doctor to have a more thorough view of the sinuses. In some cases, your doctor will also perform an endoscopy which is using a tiny camera to view inside of your nasal cavity.
What will happen if I leave my sinusitis untreated?
If left untreated, sinusitis may potentially cause more serious problems. Although rare, sinus infections may cause impaired vision or possibly blindness which may be permanent. Sinus congestion may also affect the pressure in your ears, causing difficulty in equalising ear pressure or having your ears feeling muffled. Uncommonly, sinusitis may spread to the brain, causing meningitis, which is an infection of the membranes and fluid around the brain.
What are my treatment options if I have sinusitis?
Given this, the probable next choice for someone who has exhausted all medications, is to consider surgery. But. So, what now? What can be done? Fortunately, with more researches, clinical studies, and much scientific advancement, more and more options are being made available to help those suffering from chronic sinusitis.
Your doctor may prescribe nasal decongestant sprays, nasal irrigation and/or antibiotics to help alleviate your symptoms. More often than not, sinusitis sufferers so through many cycles of medication every time they have a sinus attack.
If medication have been proven ineffective for you, you may want to talk to your ENT specialist about surgery. Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) is appropriate for some sinusitis sufferers. The purpose of FESS is to improve sinus drainage by enlarging sinus passageways. In addition, balloon sinuplasty can be used in combination with FESS to preserve as much natural mucosa as possible. FESS is performed with the patient under general anaesthesia. There are potential risks to FESS such as excessive bleeding, cerebrospinal fluid leak or even failure to resolve sinus problem.
However, not a lot of sinusitis sufferers will be willing to undergo surgery. The concern may stem out from a number of reasons such as downtime (not being able to go out or work while recovering), financial aspect (too expensive), bleeding, and pain.
Now, there is a proven alternative to repeated medication and surgery. It can even be done in the comfort and convenience of your doctor’s clinic without requiring general anaesthesia. Balloon sinuplasty as an in-office treatment has been around for years and has been proven to be just as effective as FESS, without the risks and the long recovery time. Find out more about balloon sinuplasty here!
Find your treatment options here!
Related article: All you need to know about Balloon Sinuplasty
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