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An Overview of Sinusitis

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Other Treatment Options for Sinusitis

 Addressing potential triggers or contributing factors is a key first step in the management of sinusitis. To reduce congestion due to sinusitis, your doctor may prescribe nasal sprays (some may contain steroid sprays), nose drops, or oral decongestant medicine. If you suffer from severe chronic sinusitis, oral steroids might be prescribed to reduce inflammation -- usually only when other medications have not worked. Antibiotics will be prescribed for any bacterial infection found in the sinuses (antibiotics are not effective against a viral infection). An antihistamine may be recommended for the treatment of allergies. Antifungal medicine may be prescribed for a fungal sinus infection. Immunoglobulin (antibodies) may be given if you have certain immune deficiencies.

Will I Need to Make Lifestyle Changes?

Smoking is never recommended, but if you do smoke, you should refrain during treatment for sinus problems. No special diet is required, but drinking extra fluids helps to thin secretions.

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.  

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