Allergy season in Illinois is no joke, and this is why many of our patients have frustrating sinus problems in springtime. Sinus linings inflame, sinus drainage, and ventilation don’t happen the way they should, and infections can be frequent.
About 29% of Americans suffer from sinusitis each year, and about 12% have chronic or long-term sinusitis. Most people with it miss at least four days off work. This gives you a hint of how sick you can feel from it.
Thankfully, treating allergic sinusitis is one of our ENT specialities, and we can help diagnose and treat your symptoms.
Types of Sinusitis
The main causes of sinusitis are allergies, autoimmune issues, and infections, and there are three main types of sinusitis based on how long symptoms last for.
- Acute sinusitis – a new infection that lasts up to 4 weeks
- Recurrent acute sinusitis – frequent bouts of sinusitis but symptoms last < 3 weeks with 4 or more episodes over 12 months
- Chronic sinusitis – persistent symptoms for > 12 weeks
Short-Term Symptoms of Allergic Sinusitis
The symptoms you get from your allergic reaction to springtime pollens and other allergens can be taxing. (The symptoms in bold could indicate a severe infection, so please make an appointment ASAP if you have any of them.)
- Diminished sense of smell or taste
- Inflamed nasal passages you often can’t breathe through
- Excess mucus, sore throat from postnasal drainage, and a cough
- Swollen adenoids; ache, fullness, or pressure in the ears; tooth or upper jaw aches; bad breath; and fatigue
- Facial pressure – a dull constant ache/pain and swelling around your eyes, nose, cheeks, forehead, especially when you bend over or lie down
- Sinus infection – bacterial, viral, or fungal, often indicated by thick, brown/green, bloody, or pus-filled mucus
- A stiff neck
- Severe headaches
- Vision problems
Some relief is obtained with over-the-counter decongestants, hot compresses, non-prescription pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, or antibiotics (if the infection is bacterial rather than viral or fungal).
Because the worst cases of sinusitis are due to poor sinus drainage caused by inflammation of the sinus lining, most treatments are focused on reducing the inflammation.
Severe and Persistent Symptoms
A number of people suffer from year-round allergies. In addition to the relief treatments used above, we encourage them to use saline nasal irrigation techniques or sprays at home to keep the nasal passages draining and reduce the inflammation.
Prescription nasal steroid sprays are also good at reducing inflammation, and oral corticosteroids can relieve the inflammation caused by severe sinusitis, although long-term use of the latter can cause severe side effects.
But sometimes none of the treatments are enough, and your intense pain and migraines continue. At this point, we might suggest stealth sinus surgery to relieve your pain and prevent further damage.
When to See Your ENT Specialist
In addition to the symptoms above in bold,
- If you’ve had sinusitis a few times and it hasn’t cleared up, no matter what you’ve tried, come see us.
- If your sinusitis has lasted for more than 10 days, come see us.
- If you’ve already seen your family doctor and your sinusitis still hasn’t cleared up, come see us.
Make an appointment so we can assess your sinusitis properly and prescribe the right treatment.
Stealth Sinus Surgery
We have experienced ENT surgeons who do outpatient sinus surgery on a regular basis, and we use minimally invasive image-guided surgery, using the Stealth Image Guided system from Medtronic to do it. This surgery is usually incision-free, as it’s done through the nose.
The American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) endorses the use of image-guided surgery for [sinus surgical procedures]. —Medtronic.com
When we say image-guided, it’s almost like doing the surgery with a GPS system that’s linked to previously taken CT images of your sinuses. It’s a locating aid.
This makes it safer and easier to locate parts of your sinuses we need to enlarge or remove such as sinus openings, nasal polyps, or diseased tissue. We can also rely on it to see previous scars and identify any problem areas; and because we can see everything so clearly, the surgery is very precise.
This is so different to the former decades of sinus surgery. The entire procedure only takes 30 – 90 minutes, and post-op care and recovery is much easier and faster than it used to be.
We are delighted to be able to provide it to our Fox Valley patients. It is known to improve chronic sinusitis symptoms in about 90% of people who have it.
If you have any questions about stealth sinus surgery, or about sinusitis, please contact us today so we can help you avoid any future suffering. As Illinois’ ENT specialist for more than 40 years, you can trust us to help improve your ENT challenges.