Anyone who has experienced sinus infections (also known as sinusitis) knows how painful, uncomfortable and frustrating it feels. One out of every 7 adults in the U.S. suffers with sinusitis, including more than 30 million individuals diagnosed every year.
Occasional bouts of sinusitis are bad enough, but chronic (recurring) sinusitis is truly a scourge for those who have to endure frequent sinus infections. Just ask the 146 Americans out of every 1,000 who know firsthand what it’s like to live with chronic sinusitis.
Sinusitis is defined as inflammation of the cavities (hollow areas) around the nasal passages.
Chronic vs Acute Sinusitis
Acute and chronic sinusitis share similar symptoms, including:
- Facial pain or pressure
- Headache (or earache) that worsens when you bend down; most severe in the morning
- Thick, discolored (yellow or green) mucous
- Nasal congestion
- Swelling over sinuses
- Dripping sensation down the back of the throat
Acute sinusitis is usually caused by allergies or a cold and is episodic, usually lasting no more than four weeks.
While acute sinusitis is usually more straightforward to diagnose and treat, chronic, unresolved sinusitis is extremely frustrating for those individuals who have to endure ongoing pain and discomfort.
Chronic sinusitis, on the other hand, typically lasts 8 to 12 weeks or longer, sometimes months or even years. Accurately identifying the cause of any individual case of chronic sinusitis in order to determine the most effective treatment is often more challenging.
In addition to allergies, chronic sinusitis may occur from damage to the nose or face, including a deviated septum as well as nasal polyps or tumors or a chronic, unresolved infection.
W. Wallace Webster, MD – Sinusitis Specialist
Dr. W. Wallace Webster is an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat specialist) who has specialized training as well as deep experience in diagnosing and treating both acute and chronic sinusitis. While each person is different and Dr. Webster takes the time to carefully examine, assess and listen to each individual’s specific concerns and health history, his experience with sinusitis works to the advantage and benefit of his patients.
Your Initial Sinus Exam and Consultation
At your initial appointment with Dr. Webster, he will review your health history, symptoms, concerns and experience with sinus infections. He will conduct an endoscopic sinus exam to closely examine your nasal passages and sinus openings so that he can find any evidence of small growths (polyps) or other problems that might be missed by a routine examination. The endoscope is a thin, flexible tube with a fiber-optic camera and light attached at one end.
In some cases of deep inflammation or physical obstruction that is difficult to detect from an endoscopic sinus exam, an imaging test (CT or MRI) may be warranted.
If allergies are suspected as the primary cause of your sinusitis, Dr. Webster may also prescribe allergy testing, particularly if you have not had allergy testing recently. Oregon Coast Allergy & Sinus also offers in-office allergy testing and multiple types of in-office as well as home-based allergy treatment as may be indicated by the results of allergy testing and diagnosis.
In some cases of chronic sinusitis when the condition fails to respond to treatment or is getting worse, Dr. Webster may swab inside your nose to collect a sample for a lab culture to identify or rule out such causes as bacteria or fungi.
Chronic Sinusitis Treatment
If your recurring sinusitis is determined to be caused by allergies, we may be able to treat the allergies as a method to resolve or at least reduce the frequency of your sinus infections.
If allergies are not the cause of your chronic sinusitis or if medications or other treatments have proved unsuccessful for you in the past, you may be a candidate for either Balloon Sinuplasty or Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) to treat your chronic sinusitis.
Balloon Sinuplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed in our office. During this procedure, a small balloon is inserted into your sinuses and is then inflated to dilate (widen) the openings of your nasal sinuses. Saline spray is then used to “flush out” the sinuses so they can be drained and cleared of any mucus, pus or discharge that is causing congestion.
Because balloon sinuplasty is widely considered to be very safe and effective with low risk of complications and it can be performed in-office, under local anesthesia, as a minimally invasive procedure, it can be an excellent option for patients that Dr. Webster deems to be good candidates for success.
Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS)
When the cause of chronic sinusitis is determined to require removal of tissue such as polyps or small amounts of bone that may be blocking the sinus drainage pathways, Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) is the most common and effective procedure. This procedure can also effectively be used to treat a deviated septum or enlarged turbinates (hypertrophy).
The purpose of Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery is to widen the natural drainage pathways between the sinuses and the nose, which allows mucus to get out of the sinuses and air to get in. This procedure also allows allergy medications like nasal saline to access the sinuses for improved control of allergy symptoms.
FESS is also a procedure that can be performed with local anesthesia as a same-day surgery.
If you or a loved one is experiencing unresolved, recurring sinus infections, call our office at 541-808-3860 to make an appointment with Dr. Webster.