Both sinusitis and nasal obstruction can be a source immense pain and discomfort. Living with either can make your life miserable. Daily activities like eating, talking and sleeping can be much more difficult. But what many people don’t realize is that both sinusitis and nasal obstructions can be treated and cured relatively easily.
Sinusitis is an inflammation, or swelling, of the membrane lining of any sinus, especially one of the paranasal sinuses. Normally, the sinuses are filled with air, but when sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, this can cause pressure and pain. Bacteria, viruses and fungi can multiply, resulting in an infection. In addition, some studies have shown that structural issues such as narrowed drainage pathways may also lead to sinusitis outbreaks.
Each year, more than 37 million Americans (one out of every eight adults) suffer from sinusitis. Symptoms can include:
- Facial pain and pressure
- Nasal congestion
- Thick yellow-green nasal discharge
- Pain in the throat
- Dental pain
There are two main types of sinusitis: acute (sudden onset) and chronic (long-term). Acute sinusitis usually is preceded by a cold, allergy attack, or irritation by environmental pollutants, and may last up to a month. Acute sinusitis typically responds well to antibiotics and decongestants, with many people recovering without treatment.
Chronic sinusitis is characterized by at least four recurrences of acute sinusitis. Symptoms of chronic sinusitis may be less severe than those of acute; however, untreated chronic sinusitis can cause damage to the sinuses and cheekbones that sometimes requires surgery to repair.
A nasal obstruction is anything that blocks one or both of the nasal passages, and prevents a normal, comfortable amount of air from passing through the nose. Most cases of nasal obstruction are temporary, caused by chronic sinusitis, nasal allergens and irritants, or overuse of nasal sprays. The blockage may also be caused by a structural abnormality, such as a deviated septum (when a bend of the septum prevents proper airflow through the nose), enlarged adenoids or turbinate bones, or nasal polyps.
If the nasal obstruction appears to coincide with a certain time of year, it may be caused by an allergy, such as to pollen. If the blockage appears to be on only one side of the nose, then an anatomical cause is more likely.
Symptoms of nasal obstruction include:
- Difficulty breathing through one or both nostrils
- Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose
- Nasal congestion
- Sleep apnea and snoring
- Congestion of the nasal membranes may even block the eustachian tube leading to the ear, resulting in a feeling of blockage in the ear or fluid behind the eardrum. Additionally, nasal airway congestion causes the individual to breathe through the mouth.
Solutions and Treatments
What many patients don’t know is that there are options to cure your sinus and nasal problems beyond the decongestant aisle at the drugstore.
We specialize in Balloon Sinuplasty™—a nonsurgical, outpatient procedure using a small Sinus Balloon catheter to open up blocked sinus passageways and restore normal sinus drainage and function. When the sinus balloon is inflated, it gently restructures and widens the walls of the passageway while maintaining the integrity of the sinus lining.
Treatment for nasal obstruction varies, depending on the type of obstruction and underlying cause. Often medications (decongestants, antihistamines and steroid sprays) are utilized as the first step in treatment of nasal obstruction. In other cases, surgery is the best option.
Surgical treatments for nasal obstruction include:
- Endoscopic sinus surgery—an endoscope is used to enlarge narrow nasal passages that block airflow and to help sinuses drain properly
- Surgery to reduce the size of enlarged turbinates
- Surgery to remove nasal polyps (which have not responded to medication)
- Septoplasty—surgical correction of a deviated septum
If you are experiencing any symptoms of chronic sinusitis or nasal obstruction—to the point that it is interfering with the quality of your life—please call the Atlanta Institute for ENT for an in-office consultation. Both of these conditions can be managed, but occasionally a simple outpatient procedure can make a real difference in your life.