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What to Do About Recurring Sinus Infections

You feel it as soon as you open your eyes. That pressure across your face. You try to take a deep breath through your nose and know, you have yet another sinus infection. Different than your average cold or flu, a sinus infection is a much different beast. When they are recurrent, a deeper look may be warranted. 

What is a sinus infection?

Sinusitis, known more colloquially as a sinus infection, occurs when fluid accumulates in the sinus cavities, creating an environment for germs to grow. It can be caused by viruses or bacteria and shares symptoms with a cold, such as a runny nose, facial pain, headaches, sore throat and cough.

Most sinus infections resolve on their own, but over-the-counter decongestants, nasal sprays and warm compresses can provide relief. However, chronic sinusitis should not be ignored as it can spread to other parts of the body, leading to serious complications like meningitis and brain abscesses that may require emergency surgery.

Recurring sinus infections

Frequent sinus infections are not only unpleasant, but they can also interfere with many aspects of your life.

Chronic sinusitis can be debilitating for some people. You may miss work, time with family and friends and they can even lead to depression. When you have recurring sinus infections, your healthcare provider may want to take a deeper look into the root cause of the problem.

If your condition is severe enough, there a several procedures that may remedy the problem.

Types of sinus surgeries

Sinus surgery may be an option for you if you have been diagnosed with chronic sinusitis.

The most non-invasive option is called a balloon sinuplasty. This procedure involves inserting a flexible balloon catheter through the nose to the sinus cavity opening and gradually inflating it to widen the sinus tissues, allowing proper drainage.

It is a less traumatic procedure with a higher success rate, minimal post-operative pain, and faster recovery compared to traditional surgery like functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS), which involves removing bone and tissue to enlarge the sinus openings.

What to expect after surgery

Both the balloon sinuplasty and functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) have risks associated with them.

The balloon procedure has a lower complication rate but still carries the risks of tissue and mucus damage, eye and brain injury, post-operative bleeding and anesthesia-related risks. Recovery from the balloon procedure is generally quick, with most patients returning to normal activities within 24 hours. However, strenuous activity should be avoided for two weeks.

FESS is a more invasive procedure, and post-operative recovery may involve follow-up visits to clear inflammation or scar tissue. While effective for chronic sinusitis, mild infections from common colds can still occur.

If you have been struggling with chronic sinus infections, talk with your healthcare provider and see what options are available to you.

Tanner Health System, Primary Care

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