Questions Commonly Asked About Balloon Sinuplasty

After conducting an online search a patient visits his doctor to discuss treatment options.

If you have never heard of balloon sinuplasty, you are not alone, since the vast majority of Americans have likewise never heard about it. You would, of course, be much more likely to be familiar with the procedure if you had a medical condition called chronic sinusitis, or if you experience frequent sinus infections.

Since these are the medical conditions addressed by balloon sinuplasty, patients who are troubled by these medical conditions are much more likely to have heard about the procedure. There are millions of Americans who suffer from one of these two problems, and for many Americans, medicines can be used to clear up the issues, for instance by using antibiotics or corticosteroids.

When these treatments fail to bring about relief for the sufferer, the balloon sinuplasty procedure may be one of the best possible alternatives. Someone who experiences chronic sinusitis on a regular basis will typically undergo inflammation and infection in the sinuses, and this, in turn, causes a whole slew of unpleasant symptoms which can impact daily life.

Many patients experience at least one and probably several of the following symptoms: facial or nasal pain, persistent sneezing, strong headaches, and a constant sensation of pressure throughout the face and the nose. To alleviate these symptoms, the first step usually taken by the sufferer is to purchase over-the-counter medications or to seek prescription medication from a doctor, although this generally will only result in relief which is temporary. In the majority of cases, chronic sinusitis returns along with all of its symptoms, time after time.

A woman searches the internet on her phone and puts her hand on her head because she doesnt have the answers she needs about balloon sinuplasty.

Deciding if you need to have balloon sinuplasty can be quite the headache if you don’t have the answers you need.

 

Methods of the Past

In the past, patients had few alternatives when chronic sinusitis or sinus infections simply could not be managed by medication, and the only thing which would bring about lasting relief is an invasive kind of surgery. This surgical procedure called for directly accessing the area of the sinuses, and the removal of bone and tissue.

Since these are actual surgical incisions, it was always possible to produce scar tissue, along with a chance of infection, as well as some degree of bleeding during the procedure. On top of all that, the procedure was not always successful, and even if it was, the recovery time was often quite lengthy, and it would keep a patient out of work long enough that vacation time would be needed.

The balloon sinuplasty procedure is much less invasive because it only uses a small catheter to insert a tiny balloon into the sinus cavities where infection has taken place. Once the balloon has been expanded, the sinus cavity is also expanded, and a more permanent solution is experienced by the patient.

Due to the fact that so few people are aware of this relatively new medical procedure, there are undoubtedly a number of good questions about it which people would like answered before considering it as a solution to their own medical condition.

Questions Frequently Asked About Balloon Sinuplasty

  • How is the procedure done? – Instead of surgical instruments which cut through bone and tissue, a simple catheter and balloon are used, and these are guided through the nasal passageways by a small camera. Once in place, the balloon is inflated so that it can unblock the specific sinus cavity being treated. If more than one sinus is being treated, the balloon will be deflated and re-inserted into the second or third sinus being treated. The entire procedure can be completed in less than an hour, and it does not involve any kind of blood loss or surgical incision. There is also no damage done to bone or tissue, which makes recovery time much less than any kind of procedure done in the past.
  • Does the procedure bring about a permanent solution? – The most common reason that chronic sinusitis develops in a patient is that swelling or inflammation has developed in the tissue and bone surrounding the sinus cavity. With the swelling of the tissue, the sinus cavity itself becomes blocked, and that’s what leads to the congested feeling a patient experiences, as well as the blockage of ordinary discharge. When the tiny balloon is inserted into the sinus cavity, it is slowly expanded, so that a very gentle repositioning of the bone and tissue is accomplished. That in turn promotes a permanent re-positioning of the nasal tissue in the entire region, which means congestion is relieved and normal mucus discharge can flow again. Compared to medications which merely treat the symptoms, this is a much more permanent solution to the problem, because it actually addresses the underlying situation which causes all those symptoms. In studies performed on patients who underwent balloon sinuplasty, the majority were still enjoying the benefits of the procedure years after it was originally performed.
  • Are all physicians able to perform balloon sinuplasty? – Not all physicians are qualified to perform the procedure. It has to be done by a qualified physician who is a specialist with ear, nose, and throat conditions. These physicians are known as otolaryngologists, and they have been well-trained in how to perform the procedure. Since it is a relatively new medical procedure, it requires that a doctor is certified to perform it on patients.
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Preventing Sinus Pressure on Airline Flights

A view of the interior of an airpline tends to conjure feelings of excitement however if you suffer from sinus pain it could be a nightmare.
A view of the interior of an airpline tends to conjure feelings of excitement however if you suffer from sinus pain it could be a nightmare.

Flights on an airline tend to conjure feelings of excitement, However, if you suffer from sinus pain flying could be a nightmare.

The majority of travelers enjoy airline flights, partly for the excitement involved with the whole experience in the airport, and partly because of the other-worldly feeling of flying above all the cities, towns, and landscape which are literally miles below. Then too, the excitement of traveling to a distant destination, possibly to visit loved ones or friends whom you haven’t seen for years, adds another very powerful appeal to the experience of flying.

However, there is at least one thing that most people find somewhat annoying regarding airline flights, and that’s the inevitable sensation of having sinus pressure, or the need to clear your ears while in the air. This is especially true during takeoff and landing, where both those sensations are most noticeable.

Why you Feel Pressure When Flying

As an airplane takes off and begins to ascend, the pressure in your middle ear and sinus cavities begins to expand. In fact, the air inside your sinus cavities and your middle ear will even evacuate those two areas, flowing out into the cabin of the airplane itself. The exact opposite happens when an airplane is descending, i.e. air pressure in your middle ear and in the sinus cavities becomes much more compressed than it was before.

That means there is considerably less air pressure in those two body locations than there is in the cabin of the airplane. This is felt by the body as a kind of squeezing sensation or negative pressure. When the eustachian tube leading to your middle ear is unable to provide new air to the middle ear, it causes air pressure to increase dramatically during the descent.

When that happens, fluid builds up in the middle ear, which will be noticed as either a loss of hearing or a kind of fuzzy or dulled hearing capability. This can actually lead to a sinus infection if the condition is not reversed fairly soon. For most people, it never gets to this point, and the air pressure in your middle ear and sinus cavities become stabilized before any real negative effects can occur.

However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t feel a little uncomfortable for a certain amount of time and that your hearing won’t be impacted for at least a little while. With a little luck, by the time you’re in the baggage line ready to collect your luggage, you should feel fairly normal again, and your hearing should be right back to the level it was pre-flight.

A woman braces her head as she suffers from sinus pain caused by expanding sinus cavities on an airline.

When flying a person with sinus pain can be in a really uncomfortable situation as their sinus cavities would expand and cause pain.

How you can Reduce Sinus Pressure During Airline Flights

There are a number of things you can do to relieve the pressure you experience during an airline flight. While these tips may not be 100% effective, in most cases they will at least reduce the level of pressure you feel, and they will make the ascents and descents of the airplane more tolerable.

One of the best things you can do to alleviate changing air pressure as you fly is to take an allergy medicine before traveling. You may already have a prescription for an allergy medication from your doctor, or you may need to simply purchase one over-the-counter, but in any case, these can effectively reduce any pressure sensations you feel during the flight.

If you don’t suffer from allergies and you’ve never used allergy medications, an oral decongestant can be just as effective in many cases, and this is something you should also do before the flight. As you’re waiting in the airline terminal, prior to the time your plane begins boarding, just pop in an oral decongestant with a glass of water, and you just might get through the whole flight without any discomfort.

If your flight is a long one, you may need to supplement the original ingestion of either allergy medication or oral decongestant by taking a second capsule with a beverage at some point before the descent begins.

Sometimes topical nasal decongestants can also be effective, and if you’re using one of these, it should be applied approximately 30 minutes before the plane ascends or descends, in order for it to take effect.

For many people, taking a drink of water during the plane’s ascent or descent will relieve the pressure felt in sinus cavities or in the middle ear. Chewing gum at those same times is another tactic which is extremely effective for many people, so before your airline flight, it might be a good idea to stop at a newsstand and purchase one or two packages of chewing gum for the journey.

The last recommendation for alleviating pressure felt in the sinus cavities or in the middle ear during airline flights is to perform a self-procedure which can physically accomplish the relief of any pressure which builds up. This procedure is called a Valsalva, and it involves pinching the nose closed while concurrently blowing the nose.

This may have to be repeated several times during ascent or descent, in order to achieve maximum effectiveness. Obviously, this might be a bit disconcerting to people who are seated next to you on the flight, and it might be a bit attention-getting in the airplane cabin. However, if you don’t mind calling a little attention to yourself, it can be fairly effective in reducing sinus pressure that you feel.

A little social discomfort might be far more preferable to the physical discomfort you would feel if you don’t do anything at all.

Posted in Sinusitis Tagged with: , ,

Balloon Sinuplasty – the Quickest and Most Effective Solution for Chronic Sinusitis

A patient discusses various options with her doctor regarding her sinus pain and came to the conclusion that balloon sinuplasty is the least invasive option.
A patient discusses various options with her doctor regarding her sinus pain and came to the conclusion that balloon sinuplasty is the least invasive option.

It is important for you to speak to your doctor about balloon sinuplasty as it is a less invasive surgical procedure than other options.

Chronic sinusitis is a medical condition which more than 30 million Americans are known to suffer from in any given year, and it’s one which causes a great deal of pain and discomfort to the sufferer, with symptoms that can seriously degrade your quality of life.

Because the condition is chronic in nature, that means it recurs frequently, and some form of treatment is necessary to manage the symptoms caused by chronic sinusitis. Many people experience a combination of symptoms like powerful headaches, a sensation of congestion, persistent sneezing, and a sensation of pressure throughout the facial area and the nose.

While these symptoms may not sound debilitating, just imagine being bothered by them on a regular basis, with only partial relief available to keep you going. In the past, the only permanent solution to chronic sinusitis was a surgical procedure which involved the cutting away of swollen tissue and bone in the nasal area.

However, in 2005 a new procedure was approved by the FDA, known as balloon sinuplasty, which provided a much better alternative to traditional surgery. This discussion will involve an examination of what happens with chronic sinusitis and why the new procedure is so effective at treating it.

Background on Chronic Sinusitis

The bones of the face have eight different sinuses, any of which can become affected by sinusitis, which is an infection that takes place within the sinuses, or the lining of the sinuses. The infection is caused by a blockage of the opening where the sinus would normally drain out, and since that material is prevented from flowing out, it produces all the symptoms experienced by a sufferer of chronic sinusitis.

In some cases, this condition will clear up all by itself without any kind of treatment necessary, while in other cases antibiotics or corticosteroids will help clear up the symptoms. Not all patients, however, can count on this kind of relief, and the infection may last for months and even years at a time, resisting any kind of medicine used to treat it.

When sinusitis reaches this level, it is termed chronic sinusitis to designate its persistent nature. At this point, it would become advisable for a patient to see a specialist known as an otolaryngologist, i.e. a physician who specializes in the treatment of ear, nose, and throat medical conditions.

Study after study has borne out the fact that the impact of chronic sinusitis for many patients can be just as powerful or even more so, as congestive heart failure. Unfortunately, many of the patients afflicted by chronic sinusitis are fearful of undergoing any kind of surgical procedure, simply because of the stigma attached to surgery in general. While in the past, that kind of dread might have been more justifiable, given the nature of surgical procedures on the sinuses, it is certainly not true of balloon sinuplasty.

The Emergence of Balloon Sinuplasty

Ironically, the balloon sinuplasty procedure was developed by a patient who was just like those described above, i.e. someone who had an unreasonable fear of all kinds of surgical procedures and resisted any solution involving surgery. In 2004, the balloon sinuplasty procedure was perfected, being based on the very similar procedure known as angioplasty.

Angioplasty involves the same kind of approach as balloon sinuplasty, in that it accomplishes a dilation of blood vessels which supply the heart, using balloons for the dilation. The major difference between the two is simply the area of focus in the body being addressed, with balloon sinuplasty operating on sinus cavities rather than the heart.

A woman is in pain due to her chronic sinus pain and would benefit from baloon sinuplasty.

The most effective way of treating chronic sinus pain is balloon sinuplasty compared to more invasive surgical procedures.

Why Sinus Passages Become Blocked and Symptoms

It’s very easy for sinus openings in the lining of the sinuses to become inflamed, for instance by exposure to pollutants, by allergies a person has, or by any kind of infection. Any of these can lead to a blockage of the sinus openings, and since those openings are only about the diameter of a coffee stirrer, it’s fairly easy to have them blocked up.

The main goal of balloon sinuplasty is to provide a permanent solution to this kind of blockage, by enlarging those coffee-stirrer sized openings, so they don’t become blocked up again in the future. The procedures of the past involved the surgical removal of bone or tissue which was blocking the passageways, but even that was not always successful, because it produced scarring in some cases, which could trigger swelling and inflammation all over again.

How Balloon Sinuplasty Works

Balloon sinuplasty is a much less invasive procedure than surgical procedures of the past which called for the removal of tissue and bone as a means of opening up passageways. In balloon sinuplasty, a small catheter is inserted into the nasal passageway, under the direction of a tiny camera which is used to guide it to the precise location being treated.

Through the catheter itself, a flexible little guide wire is introduced into the sinus cavity, and a tiny balloon is also inserted. The balloon is very slowly inflated, causing a gradual expansion of all the surrounding tissue. It also causes microscopic fractures in the extremely thin and delicate bones in the region of the sinus openings.

The tiny fractures which are introduced, later heal in the position which they have attained during the balloon dilation process, and this is the mechanism which causes a permanent solution to the sinus cavity blockage.

Since these microscopic bones are so tiny, the patient feels no discomfort with them being repositioned, and since only a  local anesthetic is used during the procedure, most patients are completely unaware of the repositioning process. Because this is a much gentler and far less invasive procedure than removing bone and tissue to enlarge sinus openings, the recovery time is much faster for people who undergo the procedure.

In most cases, patients are back to normal within a day or two of having undergone balloon sinuplasty. Persons with even the busiest of schedules can thus have the procedure done without having to take time off from work, and with only minimal disruption to their daily lives.

Many people who are in the same category as the person who invented the procedure, can now experience a permanent solution to the chronic sinusitis problems because this procedure is unlike any other traditional surgical procedure. Of course, not all patients are aware of balloon sinuplasty, and it’s also true that not every patient is a good candidate for the procedure.

However, for most sufferers of chronic sinusitis, one of the very best options available in medicine today is a low risk, highly effective procedure known as balloon sinuplasty.

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Balloon Sinuplasty – or Another Round of Antibiotics?

A pile of antibiotics is not always the solution to your chronic sinus pain. Often the solution could be balloon sinuplasty.

Every year, 30 million Americans and more are troubled by chronic sinusitis, which is a medical condition afflicting the sinus cavity and nasal passages, and which can cause aggravating symptoms for months, if treatment is either ineffective or not attempted. For many of those bothered by chronic sinusitis, a program of antibiotics can help a great deal to alleviate the symptoms, but even that is not always effective.

When more serious measures are needed, balloon sinuplasty is one alternative, and it is performed on an outpatient basis by otolaryngologists, who are physicians skilled in the treatment of ear, nose, and throat conditions. Before sinuplasty would be recommended, it is usually necessary for a patient to have gone through 12 weeks or more of chronic sinusitis without responding positively to treatment. Another scenario where balloon sinuplasty would be indicated is when a patient has four or more sinus infections in any given 12-month period.

Symptoms Which Indicate Balloon Sinuplasty may be Necessary

There are a great many symptoms which may be manifested in a patient who is experiencing chronic sinusitis, and these symptoms can intrude seriously on a person’s quality of life if they are not managed properly. Here are some of the symptoms which are indicators that balloon sinuplasty may be necessary:

  • Nausea
  • a pronounced feeling of fatigue
  • difficulty with breathing through the nose
  • pain in the ears
  • thick greenish or yellowish nasal discharge
  • irritability
  • night-time coughing
  • pain experienced in the teeth or upper jaw
  • persistent bad breath
  • difficulty with tasting smelling
  • post-nasal drip
  • swelling, pain, or tenderness in the facial area
  • sore throat

Medical Confirmation of Chronic Sinusitis

A physician can generally confirm the presence of chronic sinusitis through an examination of the inside of your nose, or by feeling for tenderness in the area of the nose or face. If more confirmation is needed, tests such as sinus cultures or nasal cultures can be analyzed in a laboratory setting, and imaging studies like an MRI or CT scan can provide much more information about the presence of chronic sinusitis.

Before making a diagnosis, your physician will probably want to interview you about your family’s medical history, as well as the types of treatments you have undergone in the past, and how long you have undergone those treatments.

It is more likely that balloon sinuplasty will be recommended by your physician if you have experienced some of the above systems over a prolonged period, and the symptoms have not been significantly remediated by any of the treatments you’ve undergone.

Before balloon sinuplasty is recommended, other measures such as antibiotics, nasal irrigation, and corticosteroids may be tried first, in order to try and achieve a solution through medicine. If these types of treatments are largely ineffective, that is when a physician is much more likely to recommend balloon sinuplasty.

A guy grips his face in chronic sinus pain as he considers wether he needs balloon sinuplasty or antibiotics

When dealing with chronic sinus pain there are several factors that could decide if you need balloon sinuplasty or a round of antibiotics

The Effectiveness of Balloon Sinuplasty

Balloon sinuplasty is considered extremely effective, even though it has only been an FDA-approved medical procedure since 2005. During that time, it has helped an overwhelming majority of patients who have undergone the procedure, and the effects of the procedure are considered relatively long-term.

Studies which have been conducted on patients receiving the procedure have universally reported that symptoms have been improved for virtually all patients up to a year after the procedure has been performed, with no unanticipated side effects.

Virtually all patients who undergo the procedure have reported more open nasal passages than before the surgery. In addition, the surgical procedure is so non-invasive that it has allowed mucous membranes, nasal tissues, and overall nasal structure to remain completely intact, with no physical loss being experienced by patients.

A 2017 study which was conducted on pediatric patients undergoing balloon sinuplasty showed that 94% of the cases dramatically cleared up the symptoms being experienced by the patients and that one year later the improvements realized were still in effect.

To further emphasize the success of balloon sinuplasty, information on patients who participated in studies from 2013 through 2017 show that most of them experienced significant relief in less than a week following the surgical procedure.

How Safe is Balloon Sinuplasty?

This surgical procedure is considered extremely safe and extremely effective, and because of that, it has become one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in medicine, as it relates to sinus surgery. The popularity of the procedure, of course, is directly related to its tremendous rate of success, and low risk of any kind of complications.

When balloon sinuplasty is performed on a chronic sinusitis patient, the patient can expect the very little risk of bleeding, reduced risk of any kind of postoperative infection, a reduced risk of physical damage, a reduced need for any kind of stitches or sutures, and a lower need for post-operative medications to manage pain.

The procedure itself requires less time than any other sinus surgery, it can be done on an outpatient basis, and the recovery time is much faster than anything else. From almost any standpoint that you consider balloon sinuplasty, it is the most effective way of treating chronic sinusitis which is available to medicine today, especially in situations where a sinusitis patient has not responded to other forms of treatment.

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Top Reasons to Undergo a Balloon Sinuplasty Procedure  

A woman is pained by her sinus infection which could be managed by balloon sinuplasty procedure.
A woman is pained by her sinus infection which could be managed by balloon sinuplasty procedure.

A reason to undergo balloon sinuplasty procedure is that it helps to effectively manage the symptoms caused by sinus infections.

Many people who suffer from sinus infections are obliged to endure a variety of symptoms which can range between annoying and close to debilitating. Every time a sinus infection develops, you can expect to experience congestion, nasal discharge, and some level of facial pressure and pain that will send you scurrying for relief. Balloon Sinuplasty procedure can provide that relief.

The problem is that not everyone responds to medical treatments which are intended to manage the symptoms, or at least the relief which is experienced is only partial. To make matters worse, the symptoms can last for weeks at a time, and just when it seems like they might be fading away, they can come back in full force to plague you again.

While these systems are intruding on your life, many normal daily activities are much more difficult to address, and a person’s overall quality of life is definitely impacted. When traditional medication for sinus infections fails to accomplish full relief, there aren’t many alternatives that the sufferer has.

Some people who experience these sinus infections have several of them during the course of a 12-month period, and it can get to the point where it seems like a sinus infection is always there, and always interfering with your lifestyle. For people in this category, i.e. those who experience four or more sinus infections in a given year, which don’t respond to medical treatment, the best alternative is a relatively new treatment called balloon sinuplasty.

What Balloon Sinuplasty is all About

Balloon sinuplasty is a surgery which was approved by the FDA in 2005 as a safe medical procedure for addressing sinus infections and chronic sinusitis, as well as for deviated septums. It is a minimally invasive procedure which is ideal for managing the inflammation of the frontal, sphenoid, and maxillary sinuses which typically become affected in a sinus infection.

This procedure would not be used for a medical condition involving ethmoid sinus diseases, because these are highly prone to inflammatory disease, which is not a good fit for the balloon sinuplasty procedure.

Prior to attempting a balloon sinuplasty procedure, your physician will conduct a thorough examination of your medical condition, as well as a complete interview with you about your past medical history. It will be necessary during this interview to determine what your history of medical treatment has been with regard to addressing sinus infections, as well as how long you have been taking those treatments.

If it is determined that you are a good candidate for balloon sinuplasty, it can be done on an outpatient basis right in the physician’s office, in most cases using a local anesthetic. There is no actual cutting involved in the procedure, nor is any are there any removal of tissue or bone, which is why it’s considered to be minimally invasive.

During the actual procedure, a very small balloon will be inserted in the nasal passages, then inflated so as to expand the sinus passages, and extracted again afterward. Very often, a patient will experience relief immediately after the procedure, with congestion being cleared up, and mucus once again draining normally.

The pain associated with sinus infections is also reduced in the immediate aftermath, and most patients have reported that the pain is either completely gone or mostly gone in less than a week. The balloon sinuplasty procedure has had a tremendous rate of success in the very short time frame that it has been used by physicians. In many cases, the good effects brought about by the procedure are still enjoyed by patients a year or two later.

A man has tissues stuffed up his nose to stop nasal discharge, a symptom of sinus infections that can be managed by Balloon Sinusplasty.

Sinus infections can cause nasal discharge and can be managed by Balloon Sinuplasty.

Primary Reasons for Undergoing Balloon Sinuplasty Procedure

There are several primary reasons why a patient should consider undergoing the balloon sinuplasty procedure as a way of effectively managing sinus infections. The first of these is that the procedure is far less invasive than any surgical procedure which was used in the past. Prior to the development of the balloon sinuplasty procedure, any nasal surgery conducted for this purpose generally involved the removal of bone or nasal tissue, and this is simply not necessary with balloon sinuplasty.

The fact that the procedure is minimally invasive leads to the second reason why it’s such a good solution for sinus infection patients, and that’s the short recovery time associated with the procedure. In the past, recovery time was often several weeks, and it would have been necessary to miss work for at least some period of time. With balloon sinuplasty, patients are back to work and returning to all their normal daily activities within a day or two of the procedure. That means it can fit into even the busiest of schedules without people having to use vacation time while recovering from surgery.

The third strong argument in favor of undergoing this procedure is that it does not have to be done in a hospital setting, which is something that most patients have a natural fear of. Since this is such a simple procedure, it can be done in the friendly confines of your doctor’s office, in a comfortable environment which you have experienced many times in the past. In addition to this, for most people, it’s only necessary to use a local anesthetic in those areas of the nose being addressed by the procedure.

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Avoiding Reduced Athletic Performance with Balloon Sinuplasty

An athlete tests his athletic performance following a balloon sinuplasty treatment.

For those who suffer from chronic sinus problems, it often seems like there is simply no relief, and the symptoms can intrude into your daily life in a major way. You can be subject to frequent congestion, nuisance drainage from the nasal passageways, and considerable facial pain and pressure, which when taken collectively, can have a major impact on your quality of life and your overall outlook. For those who require athletic performance for sports and leisure, these symptoms also play a crucial role.

The first recourse for individuals with chronic sinus issues is generally some kind of medication which would be prescribed by the family doctor. If that provides inadequate relief from the nuisance symptoms, more serious options may have to be considered. The trouble is that some of those more serious options involve surgeries which might call for considerable recovery.

For athletes, this is not really an acceptable option, because, during all the time that you’re away from a training program, you would be losing all those athletic attributes it took so long to build up in the first place. People who are serious about jogging, biking, gym workouts, or any other athletic endeavor involving a serious physical commitment, don’t really want to lose all that time to a surgical procedure.

One very good solution to this dilemma is to undergo a balloon sinuplasty because it’s one of the few alternatives which provides an excellent medical solution, while at the same time being minimally invasive, and requiring very little recovery time.

Traditional Sinus Treatment

In the past, whenever sinus issues did not respond adequately to medications, the next option presented to a patient would usually have been surgical removal. Everyone has four sets of sinuses, those being the maxillary sinuses located in the cheeks, the forehead’s frontal sinuses, ethmoid sinuses situated in the nose, and sphenoid sinuses which can be found toward the back of the head.

Any of these sinuses can produce a number of uncomfortable symptoms such as headaches, facial pain, and even infections that can cause disease. When the disease was detected in the sinuses, the only option was pretty much surgical removal, unless a patient was willing to put up with a whole flood of medications consisting of antihistamines, steroid sprays, allergy shots, decongestants, and antibiotics, all of which typically have very limited effectiveness.

As an alternative to the uncomfortable surgery which would have been necessary, doctors would routinely prescribe all these medical options for as long as the patient could tolerate them, as long as there was any sign of symptom remediation.

The reason that surgery was held as a last resort, was because it generally involved making surgical incisions under the lip, around the eyes, above the head, and sometimes all of these together. At last, a surgical procedure was discovered which took all the pain and discomfort away from the process because it made used a brand-new technology called balloon sinuplasty.

A female pole vaulter maintains peak athletic performance thanks to an outpatient balloon sinuplasty procedure.

With a high success rate and reduced recovery time, balloon sinuplasty is a superior treatment option for individuals who seek to maintain peak athletic performance.

Modern Sinus Surgery – Balloon Sinuplasty

The need for making incisions around the head and face is now a thing of the past since balloon sinuplasty has become the prevalent procedure in the medical field for correcting serious sinus issues and disease. Whereas the old traditional surgery required a one-week admission to the hospital and involved intense surgical procedures, balloon sinuplasty can be performed in less than half an hour in the comfort of a doctor’s office. Far less preparation time is required, the time necessary to accomplish the procedure has been drastically reduced, and the recovery period from balloon sinuplasty is amazingly brief, compared to its predecessor.

Benefits for Athletic Performance

Balloon sinuplasty is very similar to the process which was developed a few years ago to open up clogged heart arteries, and it’s just as effective the great thing about balloon sinuplasty is that absolutely no tissue gets removed during the process, and it does not require a general anesthesia as did a surgical removal. In the actual procedure, a thin wire is directed into the affected sinus, and a small balloon is passed along that same wire. As the procedure progresses, the small balloon is successively inflated, deflated and removed for each sinus being treated. It happens quite frequently that patients experience significant relief right while they’re sitting in the chair in the doctor’s office. Patients are generally able to drive themselves home afterward and are fully able to resume their regular athletic performance within a couple days following the procedure. Athletes who are reluctant to miss any training time will have absolutely no issues with balloon sinuplasty because there will be virtually no recovery time needed for most of them who are in excellent health anyway. While there might be a small amount of ongoing nasal drainage for a day or two, that clears up quickly, and the patient is left with considerably better breathing, and a most a complete absence of the sinus symptoms which plagued them before. Compared to the traditional method of surgical removal of the affected sinuses, balloon sinuplasty is a clear winner and an absolutely ideal option for those who would really appreciate minimal recovery time and a lack of reduced athletic performance after the procedure.

Posted in Balloon Sinuplasty Tagged with: ,

Chronic Sinus Infection: Why Balloon Sinuplasty is Revolutionizing Treatment

A man experiences discomfort related to a chronic sinus infection.

It’s very common for people affected by a chronic sinus infection to be so uncomfortable and distracted by its symptoms, that it significantly degrades their quality of life. When a flare-up of sinusitis occurs, you can usually expect to be so congested that you can’t breathe through your nose, that you will feel pain and pressure all around your face which makes it painful to even be touched, and as often as not, you’ll have a splitting headache to go along with it all.

Even worse, when you finally get to experience a day or so of relief, it’s usually not long afterward that all those symptoms come flooding back to haunt you all over again. This cycle is often repeated for weeks and sometimes even months. Fortunately for people suffering from chronic sinusitis, some important discoveries have been made, and there is a terrific new treatment which has a very high success rate in managing chronic sinusitis.

But first, let’s talk a little bit about what chronic sinusitis really is, and how treatments were handled in the past.

What is a Chronic Sinus Infection?

This condition occurs when nasal passages become swollen and inflamed for some reason, and since they don’t respond very well to treatment, the condition persists over an extended period of time. Because of all the swelling, mucus cannot properly drain out, and this leads to congestion and breathing problems, usually coupled with the sinus pain and headaches as well.

Sometimes a chronic sinus infection is confused with the tandem of acute sinusitis and allergies, but this can be differentiated by a skilled doctor who has been trained to study the ear, nose, and throat. When chronic sinusitis is treated effectively, it can reduce that inflammation and allow the nasal passages to drain once again, and to be really effective, it should also significantly reduce the number of episodes experienced by someone bothered by the disease.

Options for Treatment

In the past, several approaches were used to manage and control a chronic sinus infection. Almost always, the first step taken would be to use a nasal corticosteroid spray, since these are generally well-suited to prevent and reduce inflammation wherever it occurs. However, if a person’s sinuses are already infected, the sprays will have no impact at all, and the symptoms will continue unabated.

The next form of treatment is generally immunotherapy, which in this case means receiving allergy shots. This, of course, is only effective if allergies are actually contributing to the symptoms experienced by a person. When allergies are a contributing factor, the shots administered will theoretically help to lessen the body’s reaction to any specific sinus condition, so inflammation will be reduced.

A surgical team treats a patient with a chronic sinus infection.

Treatment for a chronic sinus infection has commonly involved invasive surgery to remove diseased tissue, however balloon sinuplasty represents a non-invasive outpatient alternative.

If neither of the above approaches achieves any significant degree of success, a logical next step would have been sinus surgery. Many patients, however, have been unwilling to agree to this approach after learning what was involved. There are typically several incisions necessary around the eyes, lips, and head area, so that infected tissue can be removed, and bone can be scraped to widen passageways which have narrowed. This process typically required a week of hospitalization, and it was followed by a relatively long period of recovery, although results were generally acceptable.

A far better option is now available since the FDA approved balloon sinuplasty in 2005 as a treatment alternative for chronic sinusitis. During this procedure, a small balloon is inserted via a very thin wire into the nasal cavity and is inflated once it reaches the affected sinus. When the balloon is removed, the passageway will have been widened, and diseased tissue will freely discharge.

This process is repeated for each sinus which requires treatment, but in total the procedure generally lasts no more than half an hour. There’s not just a time difference involved with this approach, because it’s so simple that it can be performed on an outpatient basis right in the doctor’s office. The results are uniformly positive, with many patients feeling significant relief from symptoms, even as they sit there in a chair during the procedure. Even better, there’s no long recovery period required, because there have been no surgical incisions or bone scraping involved. People who go through this process are typically back to normal within a day or two, with virtually no ill effects sustained.

Why Balloon Sinuplasty is so Revolutionary

People who suffer from chronic sinusitis generally experience only a minor level of relief through medication. Immunotherapy is likewise only partially effective, and that’s only if some of the symptoms are triggered by allergies. Traditional surgery can achieve positive results, but it’s a very intense surgical procedure, and it’s routinely accompanied by a long recovery period, which is fairly uncomfortable for the patient.

Balloon sinuplasty overthrows all these long-standing limitations in one fell swoop. In the first place, it’s extremely effective, with almost all patients being significantly improved. Far from being a complicated surgical procedure, it’s extremely simple and can be carried out with only local anesthesia, in a half hour or so.

When it comes to recovering from the procedure, most patients are able to drive themselves home afterward and feel only slight discomfort for a day or two. All this being so, it’s easy to see why balloon sinuplasty has completely revolutionized the approach for treating a chronic sinus infection.

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Sinus Balloon Surgery: why you may be a Candidate for Treatment

There are several reasons why you might want to consider sinus balloon surgery. If you’re a person who has suffered sinus infections for any extended period of time, rather than just an occasional episode, you’re probably well aware of all the symptoms which can intrude on your quality of life.

People who have recurring sinus infections are often bothered by nasal discharges which are embarrassing and can be quite a nuisance, frequent congestion, and facial pressure or pains which can become very distracting. When an episode comes on, it can cause the symptoms to persist literally for weeks at a time, and once they clear up, they often return with a vengeance to begin another cycle of aggravating symptoms.

If you’re a person who has a noticeable snoring problem, this is another reason why you might want to undergo a balloon sinuplasty procedure. The same process which clears out your sinuses and removes unwanted material from them can be very effective at reducing your snoring issue, assuming that the primary cause of your snoring is sinusitis.

What Exactly is Sinus Balloon Surgery?

The procedure itself is a far cry from traditional surgical procedures, and in fact, it’s so minimally invasive that any patient undergoing the treatment is generally able to drive away from the doctor’s office within half an hour of having been treated. Balloon sinuplasty is indicated when recurrent sinusitis is troubling a patient, which is a condition involving persistent inflammation of the sphenoid, maxillary, and frontal sinuses.

Balloon sinuplasty does not involve any kind of incisions or removal of any tissue or bone. Instead, it makes use of a small, flexible balloon which is inserted in the nasal passageways and directed to specific sinuses. This allows mucus and other material to drain out, and once that happens, the patient will normally feel much of the pain and congestion attributable to chronic sinusitis disappearing completely. In fact, many patients have reported significant improvements right during the procedure itself, as they feel unwanted material being discharged.

Candidates for Sinus Balloon Surgery

People who have chronic sinusitis or recurrent sinusitis are generally good candidates for undergoing the procedure known as balloon sinuplasty. Chronic sinusitis is considered an infection that persists longer than a 12-week period, and recurrent sinusitis is a condition which never fully disappears.

If you have already tried various types of medication recommended by your doctor, and none of these has been particularly effective, balloon sinuplasty may be a good logical next step. You might also be a very good candidate for balloon sinuplasty if you have been experiencing any of the following conditions:

  • chronic congestion
  • frequent migraine headaches, with symptoms that are normally associated with sinus issues
  • frequent congestion
  • drainage from the nose which is colored green or yellow
  • chronic sinus headaches
  • a persistent pressure in the area of the face, sometimes accompanied by pain
  • more than four cases of acute sinusitis during a period of one year.
A woman experiences sinus discomfort which may indicate a need for balloon sinus balloon surgery.

Sinus balloon surgery is a minimally invasive procedure which can be used to treat chronic sinus inflammation and other related symptoms.

You may not be a good candidate for the balloon sinuplasty procedure if your medical condition is related to ethmoid sinus diseases. The ethmoid sinus itself has a great number of cells, all of which are prone to inflammatory diseases. Patients who are troubled with diseases of the ethmoid sinus are not good candidates for balloon sinuplasty procedure, although the treatment has been used in such cases anyway, with the results being generally disappointing. If your sinus issues are instead attributable to the maxillary, sphenoid, or frontal sinuses, these conditions are cleared up by balloon sinuplasty, and the percentage of effective results is extremely high.

Reasons for Choosing Balloon Sinuplasty Procedure

There are several very good reasons for choosing a balloon sinuplasty procedure over some other options. First of all, by the time you get to the point where you’re even considering the procedure, chances are you have already tried other medicinal options which failed to provide the effective relief you’re looking for.

This indicates that your sinusitis condition probably cannot be cleared up medically without a more comprehensive and effective approach. The great thing about the balloon sinuplasty procedure is that it’s far less invasive than any kind of surgical option requiring incisions, or the possible removal of nasal tissue.

That fact leads to the next big advantage of balloon sinuplasty, which is the very fast recovery period associated with the process. While there is likely to be some subsequent continuing drainage from the nasal passages for at least a couple days, after that the only effects from the procedure are positive ones. The patient’s breathing will generally be much better, and you will probably experience any sinus symptoms to a much lesser degree, if at all.

Because it’s such a simple procedure, it’s very easy to fit it into your normal schedule, with no major preparation and no major follow-up necessary. It’s also a very quick procedure in your doctor’s office because no hospitalization is needed, and because it only requires local anesthesia to numb the affected areas.

One final reason for choosing sinus balloon surgery is its success rate, with the vast majority of patients experiencing significant relief almost immediately after undergoing the procedure.

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Prevent Snoring: How Balloon Sinuplasty can Help Relieve Symptoms

A woman has her sleep interrupted by her spouse who requires treatment to prevent snoring issues.

You may have heard lots of casual discussion about the potential for balloon sinuplasty to help prevent snoring, and wondered whether there was any truth to it. You may also have wondered how complicated and how painful the balloon sinuplasty procedure is, and whether it was worth the effort to try to solve the problem. The answer to both questions is yes – balloon sinuplasty can help your snoring problem tremendously, and it’s definitely worth undergoing the procedure. This is a medical procedure which is minimally invasive and has been proven to be quite effective at relieving the snoring of even the most persistent snorers.

Causes of Snoring

Snoring is actually a result of the narrowing of airways and the relaxation of throat muscles, with the internal consequences being that throat muscles vibrate with each inhalation and exhalation of oxygen. That vibration is the snoring that irritates your partner so much, and which he/she is so adamant about pointing out to you.

There are a number of different factors which can trigger snoring, including any or all of the following:

  • Age – during the aging process, your body slowly begins to lose muscle tone, which in turn causes muscles to intrude more into the airways, and that promotes snoring
  • Alcohol consumption – when you drink a significant amount of alcohol, that increases muscle relaxation of the airways a great deal, which will disrupt the airflow and cause snoring
  • Sinus problems – when your sinuses swell, it often restricts nasal passages, and that can cause difficulty with breathing, and a greater likelihood for snoring
  • Sleeping posture – you’re more likely to snore if you lay on your back, since the tissue in the back of your throat is drawn down by gravity and then blocks the airway somewhat
  • Being overweight – having extra fatty tissue in the throat can cause a restriction of muscles located there, which again promotes snoring.

Snoring and Sinusitis

One of the most common causes of snoring is sinusitis, and if you really want to cure your sinusitis and prevent snoring at the same time, balloon sinuplasty may be one of your best options. Sinusitis is a chronic condition which can last for years and can induce many unwanted symptoms in those persons afflicted by it, one of which is snoring. Sinusitis and snoring are closely linked, and if it happens that your own snoring is due to sinusitis, you might very well solve both problems by undergoing successful balloon sinuplasty procedure.

A diagnostic imaging display reveals the sinuses which may require balloon sinuplasty to prevent snoring.

Advanced imaging techniques are used to diagnose which of the various sinus cavities require treatment to prevent snoring and other issues.

Balloon Sinuplasty Surgery

This procedure has been demonstrated historically to be the very best solution for curing sinusitis and snoring at the same time. The procedure is an endoscopic one which uses a catheter and a small sinus balloon to widen nasal passages to provide lasting relief for someone suffering from sinusitis and snoring. It promotes normal sinus drainage without causing any damage to the lining of your nasal passages. The procedure doesn’t take very long and is followed by a recovery period which is far less than any other kind of surgery will permit.

How it Actually Works, and how it can Prevent Snoring

The procedure can be done either in a clinical setting or on an outpatient basis with the patient being under local anesthesia. Obstructed sinuses are freed up as the expanded balloon flushes out material from sinus cavities, so that nasal breathing can be vastly improved. It’s very common for patients to experience significant relief right during the procedure itself, as the material which was obstructing their breathing gets flushed out. Not only is this a very effective treatment for people who are bothered by constant sinus infections, but the opening of sinus passages can be extremely effective for reducing snoring as well.

While the procedure is ongoing, it will be necessary to clear one sinus at a time, with each sinus-clearing taking about four minutes. Most people have as many as six sinuses, those being located in the forehead, cheek, and behind the nose. However, not all of these may require clearing, and that will be determined by sinus imaging which is done beforehand to identify the specific sinuses which require treatment. The patient feels nothing more than a slight pressure in the area of the nose or forehead as treatment progresses, although afterward there is likely to be some soreness associated for a while.

Many patients who go through the sinuplasty procedure in their doctor’s office are completely capable of driving themselves home after a 15-minute waiting period. It is possible that there will be occasional nosebleeds in the days following your procedure, as the nasal passages continue to flush themselves out, and eject material which has been blocking the sinuses. This, however, will die down within a few days, and you’ll probably have much better breathing, with far fewer sinus-related issues.

It will almost certainly improve your snoring problem as well, although if your snoring is primarily due to causes other than sinusitis, it may not completely disappear. For instance, if you routinely lay on your back when you sleep, or when you drink a lot of alcohol, you’ll still be subject to bouts of snoring, unless you alter your sleep posture and give up alcohol. While it may not be possible to prevent snoring under every circumstance, you will likely experience an overall reduction in symptoms.

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Allergies or Sinuses: How to Tell the Difference

It’s not easy to tell whether you’re experiencing a sinus infection or symptoms which have resulted from your allergies. In many cases, the symptoms produced are very similar between these two causes, and both of them might well trigger headaches, persistent drainage throughout the day, excessive fatigue, noticeable congestion, nausea, and sinus pressure that makes your head feel like it might explode.

It’s important to know what’s causing the symptoms, as the treatment will differ in both these cases. You shouldn’t feel bad if you can’t tell the difference between allergy symptoms and sinus infections though; more often than not, even skilled doctors have difficulty with making an accurate diagnosis. The only way you can really be sure about which is which is by evaluating other information in addition to the symptoms produced.

Sinuses or Allergies?

Sinus infections generally trigger a sudden onset of sinus and nasal problems, and quite often these are entirely resolved within 3 to 5 days. In such scenarios, the only kind of medical treatment you need is for whatever symptoms you are experiencing, and your doctor can match up medications to symptoms for the most effective relief. When the collection of symptoms that you’re experiencing persists beyond one week, it is far more likely to be a bacterial infection, and in that situation antibiotics are indicated as a treatment.

When the onset of your symptoms coincide with a known increase in local allergens, e.g. high volume of mold, and the condition lasts for several weeks or longer, it’s much more likely to be an allergic reaction. This being the case, the indicated treatment would be your normal allergy medications.

When the set of symptoms that you are experiencing goes on and on, lasting for months at a time, but they do not coincide with any ongoing allergy season, this situation is far more likely to be a chronic sinus infection. In some cases, even antibiotics will not clear this up, and your sinuses may resist any kind of medications you might use to alleviate symptoms. When the whole gamut of medical solutions fails, i.e. antihistamines, decongestants, and antibiotics are all ineffective, then that’s a situation which may call for the most modern sinus treatment available: balloon sinuplasty.

Testing for Allergies

If you aren’t quite sure what you are allergic to, that kind of testing can be done in a doctor’s office in a procedure that lasts for roughly 30 minutes. It is helpful to know which substances you may be allergic to, because then you can do your best to remove these triggers from your immediate surroundings, so as to avoid any kind of encouragement for an allergic episode. The testing involved for allergies will not only tell you which substances you have an allergic reaction to, but it will also tell you what level of severity your reaction might be, i.e. mild, moderate or severe.

When it turns out that you are experiencing an allergic reaction to something, a pseudo-antidote can be prepared by your doctor as an allergy shot, which will relieve your symptoms fairly quickly. While this is likely to be a condition which recurs seasonally, you can at least anticipate when it will happen, and be prepared for managing any symptoms which develop during that time frame.

Balloon Sinuplasty

If your problem turns out to be a chronic sinus infection or congestion, the best approach might be to consult with your doctor about balloon sinuplasty. This is a minimally invasive procedure which can be performed in the doctor’s office in less than an hour, and without the need for general anesthesia. During this procedure, a small balloon is introduced into a nasal passageway and then inflated so as to relieve any narrow-ness, and then restore optimal flow through that passageway. The same process can be performed for each of the sinuses if necessary, and since there is no surgery involved at all, the recovery time for this process is very quick, with most patients being able to report to work the very next day.

Matching Treatment with Medical Condition

Obviously, the important point in determining which treatment is the right one is to correctly identify which medical condition you may be troubled with. While the symptoms from your allergies won’t be helped at all by balloon sinuplasty, neither will your chronic sinusitis be helped by allergy medications or an allergy shot.

The key to all this is to consult with your doctor about exactly which symptoms you are experiencing, to have an understanding of what you are allergic to, and what triggers may be present in your household or extended environment. It is also helpful to be aware of local allergy seasons which may impact your health. The key elements to look for in any diagnosis of the cause for your symptoms are the actual duration of your symptoms, the possible presence of allergy season, and if necessary, a thorough examination by your primary care physician. Taken all together, these factors should provide a fairly clear diagnosis for whether you’re suffering from allergies or sinuses.

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