What is Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is an infection or inflammation of the sinuses. Normally, the sinuses and nose are cleaned by the flow of this mucous and anything that blocks the outflow of this mucous, can lead to sinus pressure, pain, and infection. Colds, allergies or exposure to smoke, can all thicken the mucosa and block the flow of mucous. Bacteria can subsequently grow in the blocked sinus, resulting in sinusitis.
What are the symptoms of sinus disease?
The most common symptom of a sinus infection is pressure and/or pain in the facial region or behind the eyes. This is usually associated with nasal obstruction, green or yellow nasal discharge, post-nasal drainage, and may include a fever. Sinusitis can cause redness and swelling of the skin near the eyes if the infection is severe. Headaches can be caused by sinusitis (and many other conditions). Although it is difficult to actually see into the sinuses themselves, a nasendoscope (a telescope for looking into the nose) can be used to look at the openings of the sinuses. In some patients pus can actually be seen coming out of the sinuses, which will confirm the diagnosis. Another typical findings of acute sinusitis is a swollen and red nasal cavity.
What are the treatment options for sinus disease?
- Medical Treatment
In some patients allergy, infection or other irritants may cause the nasal lining to swell and produce sinusitis. Medications (nasal sprays, antibiotics, and others) may be enough to avoid surgery.
- Surgical Treatment
If sinus infections persist despite maximum medical treatment, then surgery may be necessary. The aim of surgery is to improve the natural drainage system of facial sinuses and to remove any anatomical obstruction or diseased areas which cause recurrent or chronic sinus infection.
The surgical method used is Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS).
The use of endoscopes has revolutionised all forms of surgery in the past ten years by providing vision into body spaces with excellent illumination, magnification and "around the corner" views. Endoscopic sinus surgery is performed through the nostrils and occasionally external incisions.
The operation is performed under a general anaesthetic and requires an overnight stay in hospital and 7-14 day's absence from school or work.
Written by Dr Zoran Becvarvski, ENT specialist