Living with chronic sinusitis can be incredibly difficult. The persistent pain, discomfort, and fatigue can adversely impact your capacity to work, affect your emotional well-being, and reduce your overall quality of life. While many cases of chronic sinusitis can be managed with conventional treatments, some cases might require surgical intervention. If you have a severe case of chronic sinusitis, endoscopic sinus surgery can provide long-lasting relief and improve your quality of life significantly.
In this article, we will take an in-depth look at chronic sinusitis, its symptoms, causes, and the role of endoscopic sinus surgery in providing transformative results to those battling the daily challenges of chronic sinusitis.
What is Chronic Sinusitis?
Chronic sinusitis is a condition that causes the sinuses (hollow cavities within the bones of the face and skull) to become inflamed and swollen. Sinus cavities are lined with a membrane that produces mucus, which normally drains into nasal passages. When the sinuses become inflamed, it can hinder the drainage process, which in turn can lead to a buildup of mucus and cause a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms.
Unlike acute sinusitis – a short-lived sinus infection which usually clears up within one or two weeks – chronic sinusitis can persist for years. Data shows that chronic sinusitis affects over 12% of the population in the US. While the condition is manageable, it can have a significant impact on your physical and emotional well-being as well as social life. In fact, research shows that chronic sinusitis can have a greater and more adverse impact on social life compared to heart disease.
Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis
The most common chronic sinusitis symptoms are:
- Nasal congestion
- Mucus discharge from your nose or postnasal drip (mucus draining down your throat)
- A feeling of fullness, pressure, and pain around your eyes, nose, and forehead
- Hyposmia (reduced sense of smell)
If two or more of the aforementioned symptoms persist for three months or longer, the condition is diagnosed as chronic sinusitis. Out of these symptoms, nasal congestion is the most common symptom – affecting anywhere from 80% to 95% of patients – followed by facial pressure, mucus discharge, and hyposmia.
Depending on the severity of the condition, you might also have other symptoms including headache, cough, throat pain, frequent sneezing, toothache, ear pain, bad breath, and fatigue.
Common Causes of Chronic Sinusitis
Chronic sinusitis can be caused by a wide range of factors including:
Bacterial and viral infections can inflame the sinuses and cause acute sinusitis. If these infections persist or recur, they can progress into chronic sinusitis.
Fungal infections caused by mold and yeasts can lead to chronic sinusitis, especially in individuals with compromised immune systems.
Nasal polyps are small, painless, and non-cancerous growths in the nasal passages or sinuses. When they grow large enough or numerous enough to obstruct the nasal passages, it can lead to chronic inflammation and sinusitis.
Airborne allergens like dust mites, pollen, pet dander, and mold can cause allergic reactions, which can cause the nasal passages to become inflamed and lead to chronic sinusitis.
A deviated nasal septum (a condition where the wall that divides your nasal cavity is crooked – leaning to the left or right) can obstruct your sinus passages and lead to chronic sinusitis.
Conchae are cavities within your nose that clean the air you breathe in and regulate the airflow into your nose. Concha bullosa is a condition in which one or more conchae in your nose get filled with a pocket of air. In some cases, it can affect the sinus drainage process, which can lead to chronic sinusitis.
Certain respiratory illnesses like asthma and cystic fibrosis can increase the risk of chronic sinusitis significantly.
Infections in the upper teeth – if left untreated – can spread to the sinuses and lead to chronic sinusitis.
Constant exposure to pollutants and smoke can irritate and inflame the sinuses and increase the risk of chronic sinusitis.
How Chronic Sinusitis Can Impact Your Daily Life
Chronic sinusitis can affect your daily life in a variety of different ways. These include:
The constant facial pain, pressure, and headaches can make it difficult for you to focus on day-to-day activities. Nasal congestion, which is one of the most common symptoms of chronic sinusitis, can affect your breathing. These symptoms tend to worsen when lying down, as a result of which you might not be able to get a good night’s sleep – leading to fatigue and decreased energy levels.
The constant pain and fatigue caused by chronic sinusitis can affect your emotional health and lead to irritability, mood swings, and even depression.
Work and Productivity
Chronic sinusitis can affect your ability to concentrate, which can affect your productivity and efficiency at work.
The emotional changes caused by chronic sinusitis can strain your relationships with your coworkers and friends and cause you to withdraw from social activities and gatherings. It can also cause you to limit or altogether avoid physical activities and hobbies, which can affect your social life even further.
How is Chronic Sinusitis Diagnosed?
Your doctor will ask you about the nature, duration, and severity of your symptoms. They will also inquire about any previous episodes of sinus infection, inflammation, and other related conditions.
Your doctor will examine the inside of your nose using a lighted instrument called nasal speculum to look for nasal polyps and signs of inflammation. They might also perform sinus palpation (putting pressure on your sinuses using their thumbs) to identify tenderness or swelling, which might indicate sinus inflammation.
During a nasal endoscopy, your doctor will insert an endoscope (a thin, flexible tube with a light and a camera attached to its end) into your nose to closely examine your nasal passages and sinuses and look for signs of inflammation and other abnormalities.
In some cases, your doctor might order a computed tomography (CT) scan of your sinuses. CT scans can provide detailed images of your sinuses, which can help your doctor identify signs of inflammation and structural abnormalities like polyps.
If allergies are suspected to be the cause of your sinus infection, allergy tests might be needed to identify the allergens that are causing the infection and inflammation.
Medical and Surgical Treatment Options Available for Chronic Sinusitis
The treatment for chronic sinusitis depends on a number of factors including the severity of your symptoms, the underlying cause, and your overall health condition. Given below is a list of medical and surgical treatment options available for chronic sinusitis.
A number of prescription and over-the-counter medications are available to treat chronic sinusitis. These include nasal corticosteroids, antibiotics, antihistamines, and decongestants.
It involves giving regular shots of allergens to desensitize your immune system. This can be beneficial if your sinus infection is caused by allergies.
If a deviated septum is contributing to your sinusitis, a procedure to trim and reposition your septum might be required.
It is a procedure that involves reducing the size of the turbinates in your nose to improve the drainage process.
Concha Bullosa Resection
It is a procedure that involves removing pockets of air trapped in the conchae in your nose.
It is a minimally invasive procedure in which a small balloon is inflated in your sinus passages to widen them, which allows for improved mucus drainage.
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
It is a surgical procedure in which the surgeon removes nasal polyps and correct structural abnormalities to clear out and enlarge your sinus passages for improved drainage.
An In-Depth Look at Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
Endoscopic sinus surgery, also referred to as functional endoscopic sinus surgery, is a highly effective surgical procedure used to treat chronic sinusitis and other sinus-related conditions. It involves the use of an endoscope, which allows the surgeon to take a closer look at the interior of your sinuses and perform precise surgical interventions without the need for external incisions.
How the Procedure Works
- Before the procedure, you will be given IV sedative to make sure you are asleep during the procedure.
- During the procedure, the surgeon will insert the endoscope through your nostrils and into your sinus passages. The endoscope transmits real-time, high-definition images of the sinuses onto a screen, which allows the surgeon to get a clear look at the affected areas.
- The surgeon will remove inflamed or diseased sinus tissues and polyps, widen the opening of your sinuses, and perform other procedures to improve airflow and drainage. If you have a deviated septum, the surgeon might also straighten it during the procedure.
- Once the procedure is performed, the surgeon will remove the endoscope and allow the surgery site to heal.
When is Endoscopic Sinus Surgery Required?
The circumstances under which you might require endoscopic sinus surgery include:
- If your symptoms persist despite aggressive treatment
- If you experience frequent episodes of sinusitis that do not respond well to medications
- If you have structural abnormalities like deviated septum or narrow sinus openings
- If you have fungal sinusitis that can be hard to treat with medications
- If have a sinus infection that has spread to the bone
It is important to note that the decision to undergo endoscopic sinus surgery must be made only after consulting with an experienced ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. The ENT will evaluate your medical history, the severity of your condition, and your overall health to determine whether you are the right candidate for surgery.
Benefits of Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
Minimally Invasive: The procedure is performed through the nostrils with the help of an endoscope and there is no need for external incisions. This reduces scarring and promotes faster healing.
Precision: The endoscope provides a clear view of your sinuses, which enables precise surgical interventions and minimizes the risk of damage to surrounding tissues.
Faster Recovery: Since there is no need for external incisions, the recovery time is much shorter compared to traditional open surgeries.
Improved Quality of Life: Since endoscopic sinus surgery addresses the root cause of chronic sinusitis, it can alleviate your symptoms, improve your breathing, reduce congestion, and significantly improve your overall quality of life.
Suffering from Chronic Sinusitis? Our Board-Certified Rhinologists Can Help You!
At Florida Sinus & Snoring Specialists, we know how difficult it can be to live with chronic sinusitis. That is why we strive to provide the highest quality medical care for those who are suffering from sinusitis and other sinus-related conditions.
Our team is led by Dr. Lee M. Mandel – a celebrated otolaryngologist who is certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Known for his expertise in sinonasal surgical techniques, Dr. Mandel is a member of several prestigious associations including the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and the American Rhinologic Society.
We have a state-of-the-art facility where we can evaluate you and determine the right treatment plan to meet your unique needs. Call us today at 954-983-1211 or book an appointment online to talk to an experienced rhinologist doctor.