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.

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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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Athletes and Balloon Sinuplasty

It wasn’t so long ago that athletes and all other sinus sufferers were obliged to miss time with their favorite sport as they recovered from a sinus procedure. Many people experience chronic sinus suffering to the extent that ordinary treatments simply don’t bring the desired relief, and more serious efforts are necessary.

In the past, when patients did not respond to antihistamines, decongestants, allergy shots, steroid sprays, and antibiotics, more serious measures were called for, and that invariably mandated downtime for an athlete. Nowadays, however, balloon sinuplasty has made an enormous difference in treatment, because the procedure is not as invasive, and that means the recovery time is far less than before.

Human Sinuses and Associated Problems

Everyone has four sets of sinuses, and these are located in the forehead, the nose, the cheek, and the back of the head. When any of these become congested or infected by disease, they can produce extreme pain and discomfort in all those areas, and that pain can radiate outward to take over most of the head and neck. The pain can be so severe that it’s nearly debilitating. Inflamed or infected sinuses can cause a whole host of other issues such as a stuffy nose, fevers and chills, runny nose discharging mucus, a sore throat, persistent coughing, and a reduced sensitivity to smells.

Former Treatment of Sinusitis

Years ago, the initial treatment for sinusitis (sinus infection) called for using medications of various types (those mentioned above) to treat the disease or congestion which was present in the sinuses. Sometimes medication would relieve symptoms for at least a while, and sometimes one or more of them had to be used in tandem. In those cases where medication helped the problem, that would more than likely be the same approach used for any subsequent flare-ups in the same individual.

However, after a period of treatment by medication where it seemed that nothing would work to relieve headaches and discomfort, it became necessary to consider a more serious form of treatment, i.e. removal. Sinus removals were never taken lightly; because of the invasive nature of the procedure it meant making surgical cuts below the lip, around the eyes, or at various locations on the head. In worst-case scenarios, it involved making two or more of these surgical incisions, dependent on the extent of infection and the location of infection.

When this approach was the only solution which seemed to hold the promise of effecting a cure, it would eventually be considered and adopted by a patient’s doctor. While the chances of success were very good with such surgical procedures, it did leave the person or the athlete out of commission for quite some time, often as much as a month, while they recovered from the effects of surgery.

A Better Way

Then along came computer-assisted endoscopic sinus surgery. This approach eschewed making surgical cuts to remove sinuses, and completely did away with the need to make incisions through the skin or below the lips. It is far less invasive, because it couples computer software with GPS tracking to display exactly where anatomical features are located, and where medical instruments are. This allows for much greater precision, and far less damage to any surrounding tissue in the area. In the past, a patient could expect a sinus procedure to last the entire week, which involved a hospital stay for that duration of time. With endoscopic sinus surgery, the minimally invasive procedure can be accomplished on an outpatient basis through the nostrils, without having to make any cuts. This procedure takes about an hour and can be done without using all the uncomfortable packing in the nose that was formerly necessary. But even this process can be improved upon, for athletes not willing to wait an entire 3-4 weeks before getting back on the field.

Balloon Sinuplasty to the Rescue

In a process which is very similar to using the balloon catheters that relieve clogs in arteries, sinus blockages can now also be relieved, and the process is very similar. Compared to endoscopic sinus surgery, balloon sinuplasty is a very quick in-office procedure that does not require the usage of general anesthesia, and it does not actually impact any nasal tissue.

Throughout the entire balloon sinuplasty procedure, a tiny balloon is inflated or deflated as needed, and then eventually removed entirely. Whichever of the sinuses is being treated by the procedure requires no packing to be administered, and as often as not, patients begin to notice improvement right while they are sitting in the office, undergoing the procedure.

After being treated with balloon sinuplasty, most athletes and other patients are completely recovered within just a couple days, and athletes can literally return to practice or contests in as little as three or four days. Since the procedure first came into usage, balloon sinuplasty has already been used to treat thousands and thousands of patients, all of whom were put through much less stress and trauma than if they had endured surgery, and all of whom have recovered much more quickly than they would have using the old-style medical procedures.

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Is Balloon Sinuplasty Right for You?

There has unquestionably been a lot of buzz in the medical industry about balloon sinuplasty recently, and with good reason. It represents a vast improvement over procedures formerly used in the treatment of blocked or infected sinuses, and all the symptoms which those conditions triggered.

It wasn’t long ago that people suffering from sinus infections and chronic congestion were forced to endure headaches, a stuffy or runny nose, fevers, coughing, sneezing, and a whole host of other unpleasant symptoms that were all attributable to inflammation or infection present in the sinuses.

Every person is born with four sets of sinuses, and any of these can become congested or infected at virtually any age. When that happens, it becomes very difficult to concentrate and to get through an ordinary day at home or at work. While there have been many medications used to treat the condition, most of these end up being only partially effective, if at all, and the symptoms which they are treating come back fairly quickly. Even worse, in many cases the antihistamines, antidepressants, antibiotics, decongestants, and pain medications which have been used in treatment can impart their own set of side effects on a patient, and some of these are as bad as or worse than the original symptoms.

The underlying problem with sinuses is that sinus tracks often become obstructed or are too narrow to begin with, so blockage comes about fairly easily. In severe cases, when medication treatments failed to manage the problem, the only other possibility would then become a surgical solution. Not only was surgery a procedure which carried its own set of risks, but general anesthesia was always required, and since the surgery itself was a highly invasive procedure, it was always followed by significant downtime for the patient.

Anyone who had sinus surgery a decade or more ago probably had to endure between three and four weeks of recovery time, before being able to return to work or any other strenuous activity. But all that changed with the advent of balloon sinuplasty.

How Balloon Sinuplasty Works

This procedure is done on an outpatient basis in a doctor’s office, and instead of requiring general anesthesia as old-style sinus surgery did, only an IV sedation is necessary for a patient undergoing the procedure. During balloon sinuplasty, a tiny balloon is placed into each one of the normal drainage paths used by sinus cavities, and this balloon is then inflated to cause dilation of the pathway.

Once this has been accomplished, the balloon is deflated and easily removed, without the need for any kind of stent. Not only is the natural sinus flow restored, but the long-term outlook for keeping the pathway open and flowing is nearly 100%. This means that once you undergo balloon sinuplasty, the chances are that you won’t need to have the procedure repeated, and that you can expect sinus issues and congestions to be a thing of the past.

In many cases, patients undergoing balloon sinuplasty begin to notice a reduction of sinus pressure and much improved breathing right while they are sitting in the doctor’s office. There is almost no discomfort reported by patients being operated on in this manner, and there is no need for medication to relieve any kind of pain, because discomfort is minimal. In the vast majority of cases, patients are back to work the very next day, and instead of feeling any lingering effects from the procedure, they universally experience a much better outlook and sense of well-being than they had the day before.

Is Sinuplasty Right for You?

The question of whether balloon sinuplasty is right for you personally will relate to how severe your sinus issues are, and how confident you feel about the procedure managing your own set of symptoms. Generally speaking, balloon sinuplasty has been an extremely successful medical procedure which has already been used on almost 400,000 patients, most of whom are highly satisfied. Any risks which were associated with sinus surgery in the past are virtually non-existent with this procedure, and no other tissue is even harmed in the process.

It is a minimally invasive procedure which is much safer than old surgical procedures used to be, because it involves no removal of bone or tissue. Recovery time from this procedure is minimal, and in most cases no recovery time is needed at all. This is also a very cost-effective procedure, since it does not call for general anesthesia and it does not involve any kind of surgery or hospital stay.

Balloon sinuplasty may be exactly the right treatment for you if you routinely experience chronic nasal congestion, headaches, sinus pressure and pains, or if your sense of taste and smell are often impaired. When these symptoms occur, and they cannot be effectively managed by over-the-counter medications or any of the prescription medications your doctor might recommend, it may be time for you to consider balloon sinuplasty as a more long-lasting solution to your ongoing sinus problems.

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Can Post-Nasal Drip Develop into Bronchitis and Pneumonia?

In case you were unaware, post-nasal drip is a condition where excess mucus is produced within the sinus cavities and nasal passages. As the mucous membrane continues to produce beyond the normal required levels, it causes the sufferer to endure mucus in the throat and towards the back of the nose.

Post-Nasal Drip Causes – Why does the mucous membrane suddenly start producing too much mucus for our sinuses to handle? Typically, a health issue will be to blame whether this is sinusitis, rhinitis, or possibly certain allergies. After this, a smaller pool of people will experience this problem when the weather changes from one season to the next or even when their hormones fluctuate; the latter is common during pregnancy, menopause, and menstruation.

Post-Nasal Drip Symptoms – For the most part, the sufferer is likely to notice a sore throat, some coughing, and a constant need to clear the throat. As the mucus becomes more prominent, it can be somewhat difficult to swallow and the back-up causes congestion within the nasal passages which, in turn, causes a blocked and ‘heavy’ feeling. Of course, there may also be mucus towards the back of the throat.

Post-Nasal Drip Treatment – Before we head into our main topic, we should also point out that there are various solutions to this particular problem depending on the extent. For example, antibiotics will commonly be used as a starting point before considering bulb syringes, neti pots, and surgery. Although surgery isn’t the ideal solution, there is a minor procedure that can achieve the main goal should the rinsing techniques fail.

Pneumonia and Bronchitis

As you can tell from the title of this guide, we want to talk about two lower respiratory diseases today in pneumonia and bronchitis. Typically, these two health conditions affect breathing because they impact the airways or the lungs themselves. With post-nasal drip, this is considered an ‘upper respiratory disease’ because it’s located within the nose, throat and sinuses. With that being said, is there a correlation between the three? Can an upper respiratory disease develop into a lower respiratory disease?

Pneumonia – As a serious health condition, pneumonia is essentially an infection that attacks the alveolar tissue within the lungs. As the lungs fill with liquid, their oxygen output is hampered and the body cells can’t operate as they should. As the overall oxygen levels decrease, this leads to chest pain, fever, headaches, wheezing, tiredness, a lack of energy, coughing, and a shortness of breath.

Bronchitis – On the other hand, bronchitis is an inflammation in the airways. This leads to an overproduction of mucus which then blocks the bronchi in the mucous membrane. Even today, bronchitis is often a misinterpreted problem because it can disappear within ten days or it can be life-threatening.

When assessing the two health conditions, pneumonia and bronchitis, people often get the two mixed up because bronchitis can also go on to damage cells and decrease the oxygen levels within the body. Therefore, it causes many of the same symptoms even though the early stages are very different.

As mentioned, chronic (as opposed to acute) bronchitis can threaten a life if several attacks take place over a short time. When in a hospital, oxygen is given to patients to compensate for the impact of the pneumonia or bronchitis.

Relationship Between Sinus Conditions and Bronchitis/Pneumonia

When you have a viral infection, this could start with a runny nose, irritation in the throat, nasal discharge, and post-nasal drip. As the problem gets more serious, this is where the connection comes to the fore. With bronchitis, excess mucus production can occur as the glands are affected by the inflammation within the bronchial airways. From here, this leads to sputum as well as a cough which is linked back to upper respiratory diseases.

Coughing Blood – At first, bronchitis can look and feel like an upper respiratory disease. Soon enough, the infection gets worse and the sufferer coughs up thick mucus. Sometimes, this mucus can be streaked with blood and this is where the mucus membranes have been damaged. If you’ve had a cough for more than ten days while also experiencing difficulty breathing and chest pain, we highly advise you visit a doctor.

Collapsed Lungs – Since bronchitis severely affects the air passing through the lungs, dehydration can be an issue as well as blocked airways from thick bronchial secretions. Unfortunately, this has the potential to lead to respiratory failure, pneumonia, and collapsed lungs. If both lungs are having trouble, this could be double pneumonia and a hospital stay is required immediately because oxygen in the blood will be low, blood pressure can drop significantly, and vomiting can also cause issues.

Whooping Cough – Within the respiratory tract, whooping cough is a contagious disease caused by bacterium inside the throat, nose, and mouth. Without vaccines, it would still be one of the largest medical issues in the world.

Walking Pneumonia – Finally, the germ Mycoplasma causes walking pneumonia which is not normally seen as a serious problem. Once again, vaccines and antibiotics have prevented millions of deaths here.

Summary

As you can see, there are similarities between sinus conditions and lower respiratory diseases and this is why they’re so commonly linked. With the symptoms causing other issues in the respiratory system, starting with one condition can very quickly lead to more serious health concerns.

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Restoring Microbial Balance for Healthy Sinuses

Colony of pathogen viruses - 3d render. Meant to signify microbial balance.

A recent ground-breaking medical study has put forth the surprising conclusion that the overall health of your sinus cavities may be due in part to the microbial balance within the sinus cavities. What this means in practical terms is that it’s not as important which microbes are living in your sinuses, as it is that there’s a balance among all those various microbes.

Findings of the Study

In the study, seven patients with chronic sinusitis (CRS) were compared to seven other patients who were completely healthy, in terms of their sinuses. The first thing that scientists noticed among the CRS patients was a much lower diversity in the types of microorganisms inhabiting the sinus cavity. In particular, one of the most noticeable findings was a significantly lower presence of the bacteria called lactobacilli, which are bacteria thought to be very important for maintaining good health in the digestive tract. At the same time, investigators discovered that there was a much greater presence of a pathogen called Corynebacterium Tuberculostearicum.

These two discoveries are thought to be related, and it has lead scientists to conclude that the overall health of the microbial ecosystem or microbiome, may be dependent upon the delicate ratio of specific microbes with each other. In effect, this means that when the microbiome is in balance, a kind of protective mechanism is formed to prevent harmful pathogens from taking hold and degrading a person’s health.

More Questions About Microbial Balance

The frustrating aspect of this concept is that scientists have been unable to discover exactly how it is that helpful microbes like lactobacilli work to keep harmful pathogens from taking over the sinus cavity, and potentially wreaking havoc. Current speculation suggests that the effectiveness of lactobacilli in fending off pathogens may be attributable to the bacteria’s ability to lower the surrounding pH through the regular manufacture of lactic acid.

By producing tiny amounts of lactic acid in the sinus cavity, it is thought that lactobacilli may exert a strong influence over which microbes can take up residence there, and which are excluded from the environment, e.g. some of the harmful pathogens.

More Investigation is Needed

The results of this study have been extremely intriguing for scientists, but at the same time it is understood that this exploration will require a great deal of follow-up before a real understanding of the microbial ecosystem can be obtained. While the relationship between a strong lactobacilli presence and the corresponding absence of pathogens may still prove to be one of the most powerful factors in contributing to overall sinus health, scientists acknowledge that many other bacteria in the microbiome must be studied as well. Future studies are therefore likely to focus on other bacteria in the microbiome to see what their roles may be in contributing to the delicate microbial balance, and in turn, what their effect on overall sinus health may be.

Traditional Treatment Programs for CRS

One of the reasons that the findings of the study are so important is that the real cause of CRS has always been debated among medical people and scientists, and there has never been a consensus about the best approach. What is not debated is that more than 30 million Americans in any given year have CRS, and that the cost in healthcare each year for treating the chronic condition is in the neighborhood of $2.5 billion.

There have been two primary schools of thought about CRS, one being that it should be treated with anti-inflammatory medications because it’s an autoimmune response, while the other camp holds that it should be treated with antibiotics because it’s an infectious disease.

In the past, it was thought necessary to use antibiotics in order to eradicate all potentially harmful pathogens within the sinus cavity as a means of restoring good health. However, in light of the new study findings, what this may have been accomplishing unintentionally is the destruction of the delicate microbial ecosystem in the sinuses.

Therefore, the theoretical optimal result of treatment with antibiotics would be a temporary success after having destroyed whatever pathogens were resident, with a resumption of those pathogens to be expected when antibiotic treatment lapsed. This in fact, is the very scenario which has seemed to play out in many patients. It seems to resonate with what is now being discovered about the balance of the microbiome being more important than the specific presence of individual microbes.

Future Treatment of CRS

This in turn seems to indicate that a shift in the medical approach to treating CRS should be adopted. Rather than attempting to lay waste to all harmful pathogens resident in the sinus cavity, it may be far more helpful for the long-term health of any CRS patient to restore the microbial balance which prevails in the sinus cavities of completely healthy individuals.

In simplistic terms, medical personnel are now beginning to believe that treatment of CRS should not be centered around destroying what’s there, but on restoring the balance that used to be there. This will allow the sinus cavity microbiome to once again become capable of policing itself, and of maintaining good overall sinus health.

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Photodisinfection for Chronic Sinusitis

An older man sniffing a yellow flower, whose photodisinfection treatment has helped him immensely.

Chronic sinusitis is a recurring inflammation which can occur in any of the four sinus cavities, most often caused by allergies, smoking, viruses, or bacteria, or some combination of these triggers. It can cause a variety of symptoms including pain and discomfort, as well as congestion and post-nasal drip. One of the most innovative treatment methods for sinusitis today is photodisinfection therapy. In this process, a non-thermal laser beam is aimed at the site of infection or inflammation in the sinus cavity and instantly kills any bacteria contributing to the sinusitis condition.

Typically, patients who have chronic sinusitis are first treated with medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, antibiotics, nasal steroids, or saline solutions, since these medicines are usually inexpensive and can be bought over the counter. In many cases, these medications are successful in managing the symptoms of chronic sinusitis, but even so, long-term usage often carries side effects that make these treatments less than ideal.

It’s also true that at least 20% of all patients experiencing chronic sinusitis do not respond favorably at all to any of these types of medications. Historically, for such unresponsive patients, there have been few alternatives available other than to seek a surgical solution. Invasive surgeries, however, are usually used as a last resort solution to the problem. Photodisinfection is now offering a very real and effective potential solution for those people who’ve already tried the traditional methods of treatment without success.

What is Photodisinfection?

Photodisinfection is a non-antibiotic treatment which works much faster than any antibiotics can, which means it can bring relief to someone who has sinusitis within minutes or hours rather than a period of days or weeks. Photodisinfection uses antimicrobial photodynamic therapy, in which a balloon catheter delivers the laser beam to the site of infection.

This process has the effect of destroying any drug-resistant biofilms which may be resident on the sinus membranes and eliminates bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Because it uses safe laser light, there is a minimal or no inflammatory response, which contributes to quick recovery time. In the immediate aftermath of the process, almost instant relief is felt by the patient, because of the real-time elimination of the causes of the original sinusitis.

A man sneezing into a tissue who needs photodisinfection treatment.

Photodisinfection works to target all problematic microbes and destroying them with a safe laser set at a specialized wavelength. All microbes are instantaneously destroyed – this way, microbes won’t be able to develop any resistances to the treatment.

How Photodisinfection Works

The photodisinfection process effectively destroys exotoxins, and endotoxins, and both intracellular and extracellular pathogens, even destroying polymicrobial biofilms which have demonstrated resistance to antibiotics. Even a single treatment of photodisinfection has been proven to be more than 99% effective at killing targeted fungi, bacteria, and viruses.
The reason it can be so effective is that it targets only those organisms which have absorbed a photosensitizer introduced at the site of inflammation or infection in the sinus cavities. The laser light used in the process is carefully controlled at a specific wavelength so that it has no effect on healthy human tissues. Contrary to the use of antibiotics, there has been no evidence of growing resistance to photodisinfection treatments on the part of targeted bacteria.

Photodisinfection has undergone thorough clinical testing and has produced remarkably consistent results with patients who have had little or no success with the more traditional treatment methods. It is a well-understood process which relies on a very simple mechanism for its effectiveness.

The first step in the process calls for applying a photosensitizing solution to the site in the sinus cavity which has been targeted for treatment. These photosensitizing molecules bind themselves to microbes which been targeted, but at this stage, the photosensitizing molecules remain in an inactive state.

Next, laser light at a carefully predetermined wavelength is trained on the treatment site, with the specific wavelength chosen to maximize absorption of the light by the photosensitizing molecules already in place, and bound to the microbes. When the lasers come in contact with the infection site, it triggers a photocatalytic reaction destroying the problematic microbes, while leaving healthy tissue unaffected.

During this process, a whole plethora of virulence factors are also eliminated, reducing inflammation at the site as well. When the laser light is removed, the entire photocatalytic reaction terminates, with no further actions occurring.

A One and Done Treatment

Because this whole process works instantaneously, there is no time for microorganisms to develop resistance to photodisinfection. This accounts for the fact that bacteria have not demonstrated any resistance to recurring photodisinfection treatments, and allows for repeated treatments to be administered if necessary.

The demonstrated immediacy of both the anti-inflammatory effects as well as the anti-microbial effects make photodisinfection therapy one of the most effective treatments of chronic sinusitis available today.

 

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