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An Overview of Sinusitis


Is Sinus Surgery Necessary?

Mucus is developed by the body to moisten the sinus walls. In the sinus walls, the mucus is moved across tissue linings toward the opening of each sinus by millions of cilia (a hair-like extension of a cell). Irritation and swelling from an allergy can narrow the opening of the sinus and block mucus movement. If antibiotics and other medicines are not effective in opening the sinus, surgery may be necessary. Also, if there is a structural abnormality of the sinus such as nasal polyps, which can obstruct sinus drainage, surgery may be needed.

Surgery may be performed under local or general anesthesia using an endoscope. Most people can return to normal activities within five to seven days following surgery. Full recovery usually takes about four to six weeks.

A procedure called a "turbinectomy" may also be performed to shrink the swollen tissues of the nose. This can be done in your doctor's office and can take only a few minutes. The anesthetic used is very similar to that used in routine dental procedures.

Another treatment, called balloon sinusplasty, can also be done under local anesthesia in a doctor's office. With this procedure, a doctor can open up swollen, inflamed sinuses much like a heart surgeon opens blocked blood vessels to the heart with balloon angioplasty. The unblocked sinus can now drain mucus more freely.  

What Happens If Sinusitis Is Not Treated?

Delaying treatment for sinusitis may result in suffering from unnecessary pain and discomfort. In extremely rare circumstances, untreated sinusitis can lead to meningitis or brain abscess and infection of the bone.


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on May 18, 2014
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