It is estimated that more than 37 million Americans suffer from sinus infection (sinusitis) every year, making it one of the most common health conditions in the country. Sinusitis simply means your sinuses are inflamed – red and swollen – because of an infection or another problem. This disease accounts for one in every five antibiotics prescribed and results in an average of four lost workdays for every patient.
These numbers may be significantly higher, since the symptoms of sinusitis often mimic those of allergies and cold and many afflicted never see a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Sinusitis is typically treated first with medication. In at least 20 percent of patients, though, medication alone is not enough and surgery is required.
Causes of Sinus Infection
Acute sinusitis usually follows a viral infection in the upper respiratory tract, but allergens (allergy-causing substances) or pollutants may also trigger acute sinusitis. A viral infection causes damage to the cells of the sinus lining. This damage leads to inflammation. The lining thickens with fluid that obstructs the nasal passage.
This passage connects to the sinuses. The obstruction disrupts the process that removes bacteria normally present in the nasal passages, and the bacteria begin to multiply and invade the lining of the sinus. This causes sinus infection symptoms. Allergens and pollutants produce a similar effect.
What Are the Symptoms of Sinusitis?
One of the most common symptoms of any type of sinusitis is pain, and the location depends on which sinus is affected.
Most people with sinusitis have pain or tenderness in several places and their symptoms usually do not clearly indicate which sinuses are inflamed. In addition to the pain, people who have sinusitis often have thick nasal secretions that can be white, yellowish, greenish, or blood-tinged.
Sometimes these secretions drain in the back of the throat and are difficult to clear. This is referred to as “post-nasal drip.” Cases of sinusitis are also usually accompanied by a stuffy nose and a general feeling of fullness over the entire face.
Less common symptoms of sinusitis (acute or chronic) can include the following:
- Decreased Sense of Smell
- Cough That May be Worse at Night
- Sore Throat
- Bad Breath
Because the nose can get stuffy or congested when a person has a condition like the common cold, they may confuse simple nasal congestion with sinusitis. A cold usually lasts about 7 to 14 days and goes away without treatment. Acute sinusitis often lasts longer and typically causes more symptoms than a cold.
Chronic sinus disease is troublesome and frustrating to patients. Today, available technology is faster, gentler, and more thorough than past options. Patients can expect quicker recovery, shorter operating time, and lower overall costs. Traditionally, those who suffer from sinusitis have two routes to relief—antibiotic medical therapy or sinus surgery.
Sinusitis is typically treated first with medication. Treatment with antibiotics or topical nasal steroid sprays is often successful in reducing mucosal swelling, fighting infection, and relieving obstructions of the sinus opening. Inhaling steam or use of saline nasal sprays or drops can also help relieve sinus discomfort. However, at least 20% of patients do not respond adequately to medications.
Conventional Sinus Surgery
The goals of sinus surgery are to clear blocked sinuses restoring normal sinus drainage and to preserve normal anatomy and mucosal tissue. Conventional sinus surgery required bone and tissue to be removed to open blocked sinus passageways – leading to post-operative pain and bleeding that required uncomfortable nasal packing to control.
Balloon Sinus Dilation Technology
When medications don’t work and sinus surgery is not a desirable option, what is a patient to do? I now offer a new sinus treatment as an option – a minimally invasive technology that utilizes a small, flexible, sinus balloon catheter that is placed into the nose to reach the sinuses.
The sinus balloon catheter is gradually inflated to gently restructure the previously blocked nasal passage, maintaining the integrity of the sinus lining, and restoring normal sinus drainage and function.
There is minimal bleeding and many patients have been able to return to normal activities within 24 hours. Clinical research has indicated that the Balloon Sinus Dilation technique is a safe and effective tool in dilating blocked sinuses.
The balloon sinus surgery procedure can be performed in my office under local anesthesia. It’s quicker than a dental procedure and there is virtually no pain due to the minimally invasive technology. Balloon Sinus Dilation is a true advance in sinus care because in many cases, the procedure can be done without removing any tissue or bone. That means quick recovery times and less post-procedure discomfort.
Similar to cardiac angioplasty, a procedure in which a balloon is used to dilate obstructed blood vessels, balloon sinuplasty expands constricted openings to the sinuses. While watching a live endoscopic image on a video monitor, I guide a tiny, narrow balloon into the blocked sinus opening.
Once the balloon is in place, it is inflated by using a syringe connected to the end of a tube outside the body. This technology is an endoscopic tool and may be used with other medical therapies or sinus surgery techniques. It does not limit future treatment options if you have progressive disease.
The Benefits of Balloon Sinus Surgery (Sinuplasty)
- Safe and Effective
- Minimally Invasive
- Reduced Bleeding
- Improved Recovery Time
Education and Communication is Key
Balloon sinus surgery doesn’t entirely eliminate the need for conventional sinus surgery. The balloon will not fit all passageways and may not work for patients with large cysts, severe bone disease, or previous sinus surgery. Patients are thoroughly educated on the procedure, expectations and provided a customized protocol to ensure the best possible outcome.
Understanding the need of my patients for a solution such as this one empowered me to continue my education and as an expert in the field, I travel around the country lecturing and teaching other sinus surgeons how to perform this cutting-edge, minimally-invasive technique. Consequently, patients too are inclined to travel to my office in Palm Beach County in search of this innovative procedure.
Minimally-Invasive Solutions ~ Opportunity to Indulge & Explore Palm Beach
It’s important for patients and their companions to understand all factors that encompass a decision to travel for healthcare. Proper communication between the home or “referring physician” and the treating physician in the destination of choice is imperative.
Following the established protocol may also ensure a best outcome scenario and planning accordingly is essential. Traveling for treatment, in this case, for a non-invasive procedure, to destination such as Palm Beach can certainly present the opportunity to also enjoy a great vacation.
The caveat is to ensure clear communication between all medical providers; home and destination as well as making sure one’s companion(s) have a clear expectation of the experience. With all factors taken into account, it can prove to be a win/win situation for all involved!
Rich in culture and history, and known as Florida’s Cultural Capital due to its exquisite museums, performing art venues, festivals and upscale shopping, Palm Beach offers visitors and locals alike the opportunity to indulge in its sultry ambiance.
Relaxing while playing on Florida’s first 18-hole course, or scope out the best in the world; the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic. Alternatively, there are over 40 public courses to choose from throughout Palm Beach.
A lavish tropical paradise featuring beaches offering a year-round alluring climate and in the winter, perhaps one can enjoy world-class equestrian polo, steeplechase, and dressage facilities. A Sunday Brunch can be served field side for an equestrian and polo experience or perhaps at one of the resort restaurants and cafes of the island of Palm Beach, which have catered to world-famous celebrities and royalty for decades!
The hospitality industry in Palm Beach features some of the best in the world. With real estate gurus such as Donald Trump lending his famous Mar-a-Lago, the breathtaking Boca Raton Resort & Club and a plethora of gastronomic options throughout the city, Palm Beach is sure to exceed the most seasoned traveler’s expectations.
The medical tourism industry in Palm Beach is positioned to grow exponentially within the coming years. As more and more providers embrace it and key players of the tourism and hospitality industry understand the needs of traveling patients and their companion(s) as well as how to best deliver their services to them, Palm Beach will soar as a top destination for medical tourism.
Note: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the American Rhinologic Society contributed information to this article.
About the Author
Dr. Brodner has been caring for the patients of Palm Beach County since 2001 and is proficient in managing all ailments of the Adult Ears, Nose and Throat. He has created The Center for Sinus, Allergy, and Sleep Wellness to concentrate his practice in aiding patients suffering from sleep disorders such as snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, and insomnia; allergy issues requiring testing and treatment; and all complaints of the nose and sinuses. He is the only specialist in Palm Beach County double Board-Certified in both Sleep Medicine and Head and Neck Surgery. For more information visit www.BrodnerMD.com.