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.