Who knew that something so empty could cause so many problems?
Your sinuses are four pairs of air-filled cavities located on either side of your nose, between your eyes, and behind your forehead. Healthy sinuses are lined with mucus-producing tissues that help trap irritants and germs — such as bacteria, viruses, and dust mites — to protect your body from infection and allergic reactions. Once the mucus traps the offenders, it drains away without your feeling it or tasting it.
What happens when your sinuses clog
When you’re one of the more than 12% of adult women and men in the United States who has chronic sinusitis, though, your sinuses can’t do their job. Overwhelmed by microorganisms, the mucus thickens and slows, your sinus tissues become inflamed, and the normally empty, air-filled cavities clog up.
When the mucus can’t freely drain and clear your sinuses anymore, it adds pressure to your sinus cavities. The thickened mucus may slowly drip slowly down the back of your throat, where you can both feel and taste it — a condition known as postnasal drip. You’ll probably experience symptoms like:
- Difficulty smelling and tasting
- Trouble breathing
- Bad breath
- Thick green or yellow mucus
- Bad taste of postnasal drip
- Snoring and insomnia
- Headaches and “clogged up” feeling
- Wheezing or coughing
Alexis Furze, MD, a double board-certified specialist in head and neck surgery as well as facial plastic surgery, treats your sinusitis by first determining why you’re prone to attacks.
Why you get sinusitis
Anyone can get sinusitis, because at one time or another each of us comes down with a common cold or other illness that causes nasal inflammation and produces thickened mucus. But when you get chronic attacks of sinusitis, you may have a structural problem — such as a deviated nasal septum — that increases your risk.
When you come in to see Dr. Furze for chronic sinusitis treatment, he takes a detailed medical history, conducts an examination, and may perform an in-office endoscopic evaluation and CT scan of your nose and sinuses.
Then Dr. Furze makes treatment recommendations based on the cause of your sinusitis. If your drainage passageways are inflamed, blocked, or narrowed, and you have no structural abnormalities, he may recommend a cutting-edge, minimally invasive, FDA-approved procedure called balloon sinuplasty.
How a balloon helps you breathe
Balloon sinuplasty tends to work best if you’ve only recently been diagnosed with sinusitis. If you’re a candidate, you’ll undergo local or general anesthesia for the minimally invasive procedure, but you won’t need to go to the hospital and Dr. Furze won’t make any incisions. He performs balloon sinuplasty as an outpatient procedure in the safety and comfort of our Newport Beach office.
Using the guidance of the FUSION Compact™ ENT Navigation system by Medtronic, Dr. Furze threads a guidewire catheter equipped with a tiny, deflated balloon up your nostril and into the inflamed sinus. Once the balloon is in place, he inflates it so that the balloon presses back your inflamed tissues, creating a clear and empty space in your sinuses once again.
After he’s finished opening up your sinuses, Dr. Furze deflates and withdraws the balloon. After you wake up, you can breathe freely and easily through your nose.
You’ll still be a little groggy if you had general anesthesia, so be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home. You should take it easy for the first day or so, but you can go back to most activities after that short recovery period.
To find out if you can get relief from sinusitis without long-term medications or surgery, contact Dr. Furze for a balloon sinuplasty consultation. Phone our friendly staff at the office in Newport Beach, California, or book your appointment online.