The following is a guest post from Hannah who writes on behalf of Balloon Sinuplasty.Â You can visit the Balloon Sinuplasty site to find out about sinusitis treatment options.
A cold is bad enough, but sinusitis, which shares some of its symptoms with the common cold, can be truly miserable for the sufferer. This uncomfortable condition is longer-lasting than a head cold, and if the sinusitis is chronic, it can last for weeks or months and often recurs. So is there any way out? Before we discuss how to relieve the pain of sinusitis, letâ€™s talk a bit about what it is.
What is sinusitis?
Most people have little cause to ever think about their sinuses. These cavities are behind the facial bones above and below the eyes, but the only time we even know of their existence is when they irritate us. This irritation, caused by inflammation of the sinus lining, is most often caused by a bacterial infection but can also be triggered by allergens (dairy products can be a major offender for some people). Sinusitis is either acute, which means it will pass within a couple of weeks, or chronic, which means it may last for a number of months and recur.
What are the symptoms?
Because the sinuses are located behind the facial bones, the most common symptom is a headache or pain behind the face. The pain will usually centre on whichever sinus is affected and will be accompanied by a feeling of pressure or fullness. Other uncomfortable symptoms might include difficulty breathing, a discharge from the nose, toothache, tiredness, a sore throat or bad breath.
What can I do?
The most common kind of sinusitis is acute, which luckily is short-lived. With acute sinusitis, itâ€™s mainly a question of waiting for the symptoms to subside, which should happen after a couple of weeks at the most. There are some measures you can take during that time. Naturally, pain killers will help relieve some of the symptoms, as will decongestants. Nasal sprays and saline washes will help mucus drain from the nasal passages, which will prevent it irritating the sinuses. You could also try the old tried and trusted method of inhaling steam from a bowl of hot water, with a few drops of menthol oil for added effect.
Chronic sinusitis by definition lasts a lot longer and poses a trickier problem. If the symptoms persist for more than a couple of weeks, then see your GP. The first line of defence will usually be medication, such as antibiotics or steroid nasal sprays. For most people this will be enough, but for a significant minority (around 20%) the symptoms will persist, or the sinusitis will keep recurring. These people may need surgical intervention, and there are two main options for them.
Conventional sinus surgery aims to unblock or widen the sinuses by removing bone or tissue. If that sounds awkward and painful, it can be, but for chronic sinusitis sufferers, the short-term discomfort may be worth it. The operation involves inserting an endoscope (a thin, flexible tube) with a camera on the end into the nose so the surgeon can look at the blocked sinus. Tiny instruments are then used to scrape away the bone or tissue that is causing the blockage. The patient will feel pain and discomfort for a while after the surgery, but this passes after just a few days.
Balloon Sinuplastyâ„¢ technology is a new technique that doesnâ€™t involve removing any bone or tissue. Again, an endoscope is used to reach the affected sinus. A sinus balloon catheter is then inflated to widen the sinus and reshape it so normal drainage can resume. The recovery time tends to be much shorter, and there is usually less post-operative pain as the procedure is less invasive.