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Sinus & nasal problems

Your sinuses are hollow areas behind your cheekbones, forehead and around your eyes. Your sinuses make mucus to moisten the air you breathe. If your sinuses get blocked, infected, or swollen, the mucus can’t drain from them. Your doctor will treat your sinus problems differently depending on what is causing them.

Sinus infections can be caused by:

  • Bacterial, viral or fungal infection
  • Tobacco smoke, air pollution, hay fever, or other allergies or irritants
  • A nasal deformity that makes it hard for your sinuses to drain well
  • Sneezing hard with your mouth closed, or blowing your nose too much

Symptoms of a sinus infection are:

  • Fever
  • Green, yellow or bloody mucus coming from your nose
  • Bad breath
  • A bad taste in the back of your throat
  • Cough that gets worse at night
  • Feeling tired
  • Stuffy nose
  • Swelling around your eyes, nose, cheeks and forehead
  • Pain between your nose and lower eyelid, or in your cheek or upper jaw
  • Pressure in your head
  • Headache that doesn’t get better with over-the-counter medicines
  • Headache that hurts worse in the morning or when you bend forward

Chronic Sinusitus

Some sinus infections can last many weeks and resist traditional methods of treatment. Doctors call these types of sinus infections chronic sinusitis. The symptoms associated with chronic sinus infections are the same a similar, but last much longer.

Usually, these infections persist because the passage that links your sinus to your nose is smaller than normal. In order to provide a more lasting treatment, your care team may recommend enlarging this passage through one of two ways: balloon sinuplasty or sinus surgery.

Balloon Sinuplasty

Balloon Sinuplasty is a newer treatment option to enlarge the passage between your sinus and your nose using minimally invasive tools and methods. Your doctor will use a catheter to guide a small balloon into your sinus passage where the balloon inflates, widening the passage to allow your sinuses to drain. Sometimes, your doctor will flush your sinus with saline to help reduce swelling.

You may undergo local anesthesia or a general anesthetic in an outpatient surgical suite. Recovery times are typically shorter than other methods of enlarging the sinus passageway and outcomes are very similar to traditional endoscopic procedures.

Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery FESS

During sinus surgery, your doctor will use endoscopic instruments to widen your sinus passage. This includes removing blockages like scar tissue, nasal polyps, or mucus. Usually this procedure is done in a outpatient operating room and typically requires a longer recovery time.

Treatment

See your doctor if you have symptoms of a sinus infection. If your sinus problems are not caused by an infection, a decongestant can help you breathe easier.

You can also:

  • Use a cool mist humidifier, especially in your bedroom
  • Use a warm or cold compress or washcloth over your sinuses on your face to help with pain
  • Drink plenty of liquids

Resources

To learn more about sinus problems, visit the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

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