There are many conditions that can negatively affect your sinuses﹣and your quality of life. We’ve outlined the more prominent illnesses here for you to explore, but the best diagnosis will come from visiting one of our skilled physicians.
Most people average 1.3-2 upper respiratory infections per year. Averaging more may be an indicator of a predisposed condition for sinusitis. Sinusitis is an inflammation of the membrane lining within any set of sinuses, typically located in one of the paranasal sinuses. Paranasal sinuses include those behind the cheekbones and eyebrows.
Symptoms of sinusitis may include nasal obstruction, pressure or pain in the facial region or teeth, especially when bending down, postnasal discharge, persistent coughing or throat irritation, decreased sense of smell/taste, and ear pressure. Generally speaking, people suffer from acute episodes of sinusitis, which either clear up on their own or are treated successfully.
Chronic sinusitis is characterized by at least four recurring episodes of acute sinusitis in a 12 month period, despite treatment attempts. Symptoms of this include having difficulty breathing through your nose, having a throbbing facial pain or headache, or feeling swollen in the areas around your eyes and face.
Allergies are often to blame for sinus problems, as they tend to be hereditary. Allergic rhinitis refers to symptoms people experience when they breathe in something they are allergic to. Common allergies include animal dander, dust, mold and pollen.
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include itchy, watery eyes, throat irritation, runny nose, sneezing, stuffy nose, congestion, headache, and clogged ears, among others.
When the thin wall between your nostrils is displaced, it causes one nasal passage to become smaller than the other. A deviated septum can reduce airflow, cause difficulty breathing, obstruct breathing completely or, in some cases, contribute to bleeding.
Treating sinus conditions properly begins with determining the cause. We evaluate your situation to create a treatment plan that we believe is best.
Reasons why both acute and chronic sinusitis occur are varied. Sometimes the sinuses become inflamed from allergies or minor immune deficiencies. Not everyone is aware of natural substances in their environment that may affect their health negatively, so we provide allergy testing.
Many times viral or bacterial infections are to blame, but it is difficult to tell the difference between the two. Chronic sinus infections can cause inflammation and swelling for extended periods of time. They are sometimes due to hidden causes, such as growths or anatomically narrow sinuses.
If we don’t find a cause during a routine physical exam, we can perform a nasal endoscopy to examine interior surfaces of the sinuses. This procedure is rarely painful, but to prevent any discomfort, we apply topical anesthetic to temporarily numb the area.
Antibiotic therapy is used in some cases where sinus infections don’t go away on their own. Nasal decongestants may be used in addition to antibiotics in some cases.
If allergic rhinitis is a constant problem for you, we can conduct an allergy test to determine what allergens cause you harm. One way to cure this is to avoid the allergen altogether. Many times this is impossible, so taking an antihistamine regularly may help to treat the symptoms. Allergy shots are an option when other treatments have failed. They work by introducing a tiny amount of the allergen(s) that your body is allergic to, and slowly building up a tolerance to said allergen(s). The hope is, the more your body is introduced to these allergens over time, the less severe your reactions will be.
The treatment plans for allergy shots may be different for every patient.. Frequency of shots and length of treatment are determined case by case, as severity of allergens varies.
While often times a sinus condition can be managed or corrected through non-surgical methods, some issues require a surgical procedure. Some cases of chronic sinusitis, blocked tear ducts, trigeminal neuralgia, or nasal polyps are examples.
We’ll work closely with you to determine whether surgery is necessary. Many surgeries can be performed in-office in our advanced procedure rooms.
Functional endoscopic sinus surgery, or FESS, can be helpful in certain situations. Our physicians can use an endoscope to look inside the nose while simultaneously removing any blockage (polyps, diseased tissue) to clear the area. Depending on the individual case, local or general anesthesia may be used during the procedure.
Balloon sinuplasty is another type of sinus surgery which happens to be a specialty in our office. Dr. Ford Albritton was the FIRST surgeon in Dallas, and second in all of Texas to perform the procedure in 2006. The difference between endoscopic surgery and balloon sinuplasty is the introduction of a dilation instrument to expand nasal passages, rather than simply removing tissue.
The procedure is very simple and minimally invasive. Usually performed under general anesthesia, a small balloon catheter is placed over a wire, guided into the sinus and inflated for 5-10 seconds. This is done one sinus at a time, and can include saline irrigation if needed. One major upside to balloon sinuplasty being less invasive than other surgery is the recovery period. Not removing tissue prevents post-op bleeding and pain. Often times the patient is back to normal activities very quickly.
Since that first case in early 2006, Dr. Albritton has established himself as one of the world’s most experienced surgeons with balloon sinuplasty tools. NBC aired a piece in 2009 on the subject, making the story go national, and flooding our office with new business. Dr. Albritton participated in several initial studies on the procedure, serving as lead author on two scientific manuscripts. Not only an early investigator in the emergence of new tools for sinus surgery, he has also been a pioneer in the field of “interventional rhinology” and the use of minimally invasive tools and techniques to treat conditions of the sinuses and nasal breathing.