Sinusitis in Tampa and Spring Hill, FL
Sinusitis is the inflammation of the mucus lining inside of the sinuses. Under normal circumstances, the sinuses are full of air. However, when you are congested your sinus cavity fills with fluid. The fluid may trap pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and fungi, and the pathogens proliferate and may lead to infection. Sinusitis sufferers in Tampa, Spring Hill and surrounding areas in Florida rely on the skill and expertise of the board-certified Otolaryngologist/Head and Neck Surgeons of Suncoast Surgical Specialists for effective treatment of sinusitis.
What Causes Sinusitis?
Several common conditions can lead to sinusitis, such as nasal polyps, a deviated septum, colds and nasal swelling caused by allergies. There are four different kinds of sinusitis:
- Acute: The sudden appearance of common cold symptoms such as facial pain, nasal congestion and excessive mucus that fails to resolve within 10 to 14 days. This form of sinusitis usually goes away in less than four weeks.
- Sub-acute: Sinus inflammation that lasts between four to eight weeks.
- Chronic: Sinus inflammation and associated symptoms that persist for more than eight weeks.
- Recurrent: Numerous instances of sinusitis throughout the year.
Who Gets Sinusitis?
Approximately 37 million Americans experience sinusitis at least once per year. Certain people are more likely to develop sinusitis:
- Those with inflamed mucous membranes caused by a cold
- People with obstructed drainage pathways
- Individuals with structural abnormalities that cause narrowing of drainage pathways
- People with nasal polyps
Health problems or medications that suppress immunity can also lead to an increased risk of sinusitis. For children, sinusitis is usually the result of communicable illness, drinking while lying down, using pacifiers, environmental smoke, and allergies.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Acute Sinusitis?
The most common symptoms of acute sinusitis include:
- Pain and feelings of pressure in your face
- Stuffy nose and thick mucus discharge, which may be yellow to green in color
- Hindered sense of smell
- Coughing and congestion
Some other symptoms can include:
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Tooth pain
You may be diagnosed with acute sinusitis if you’ve had two or more of the above symptoms or have experienced a discharge of thick yellow or green mucus.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Sinusitis?
People struggling with chronic sinusitis may have symptoms lasting for eight or more weeks that include:
- Congestion and facial fullness
- Obstructions in the nose
- The presence of pus in the nose
- Discolored nasal discharge or postnasal drip
Other symptoms can include:
- Otherwise unexplained headaches
- Tooth and facial pain
How Is Sinusitis Diagnosed?
Your Suncoast ENT will consider your symptoms and perform a physical exam to determine whether you have sinusitis. The examination can consist of palpating the sinuses to look for tenderness. You may also have your teeth gently tapped on to find out whether an inflamed paranasal sinus is involved.
Certain tests may also be performed. These include x-rays, nasal endoscopy, mucus culture, allergy tests, blood work and CT scans.
What Is Nasal Endoscopy?
Nasal endoscopy is performed using a specialized tool that consists of a hollow tube fitted with tiny cameras and lights. A nasal endoscope will give your doctor a clear picture of the inside of your nose, sinuses and drainage ducts.
Before starting the endoscopy, the inside of your nose may be numbed with local anesthetic, but this isn’t required in all cases. The doctor then inserts a flexible or rigid endoscope and assesses the interior bone structure of your nose.
A nasal endoscopy helps your doctor to determine whether any obstructions are present or if there are polyps that were missed by a regular nasal examination. During your endoscopy procedure, your doctor also checks for any structural problems that could be causing your sinusitis to reoccur.
How Is Sinusitis Treated?
The treatment methods used for sinusitis are determined by the condition’s severity.
- Acute: For a typical sinus infection, your doctor might advise you to try steam inhalation along with an over-the-counter oral decongestant. Decongestant sprays and drops can also help manage symptoms. That said, you should never use these products longer than stated on the package, typically four to five days. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics, you will need to take them for between ten days and two weeks. In most cases, the problem is resolved, and further antibiotic courses are no longer necessary.
- Chronic: Inhaling warm, humid air can help relieve congestion. Using a vaporizer or steaming water can also work. To address facial pain, hot compresses are recommended. Saline nasal drops may be used. Over-the-counter drops and sprays can sometimes help control the symptoms of chronic sinusitis, but they shouldn’t be used longer than indicated on the package. In certain cases, your doctor might prescribe an oral steroid or antibiotic.
Other Treatment Options for Sinusitis
The most critical part of managing sinusitis is to address triggers and other factors. In order to minimize congestion, you may be prescribed a nasal spray, oral decongestant or nose drops. Some of these products may contain a corticosteroid to help control inflammation. For patients with severe chronic sinusitis, an oral corticosteroid may be recommended after other options have failed.
Whenever a bacterial infection is found in the sinuses, an antibiotic will be prescribed. Antibiotics do not treat infections caused by viruses. In people who struggle with allergies, the doctor may recommend an antihistamine. Sinus infections that are fungal in origin must be treated using an antifungal drug. For individuals with compromised immune systems, antibodies (immunoglobulin) may be provided.
Will I Need to Make Lifestyle Changes?
While it’s never good to smoke, it should particularly be avoided while you’re being treated for sinusitis. You don’t need to change your diet, but it’s recommended to increase your fluid intake to keep mucus thin and flowing.
Is Sinus Surgery Necessary?
The membranes in the nose stay moist by producing mucus. The mucus is transported through the sinuses by tiny, hair-like organs called cilia. Inflammation and irritation caused by allergies can make the sinus openings become so narrow that mucus is unable to pass. When drugs fail to address this, surgery is likely to be the next best option. Furthermore, surgery is usually required in cases where structural problems lead to blockages.
The surgery involves using either general or local anesthetic along with an endoscope. In most circumstances, patients can resume their normal activities within five days to one week after sinus surgery. Complete recovery typically occurs in four to six weeks.
A turbinectomy, a procedure for diminishing the inflamed nasal tissues, may also be performed. Because it takes only a few minutes, the procedure can be performed in a doctor’s office as an outpatient procedure. Your nose is numbed using an anesthetic similar to that used in dental treatments.
Balloon sinuplasty may also be performed this way. The procedure allows the doctor to force open inflamed sinuses and works similarly to balloon angioplasty for opening obstructed blood vessels. By opening the inflamed sinuses, a balloon sinuplasty allows your sinuses to rid themselves of accumulated mucus more easily.
What Happens If Sinusitis Is Not Treated?
If sinusitis is not treated in a timely manner, you can experience needless pain and complications. In rare cases, failing to treat sinusitis can result in meningitis or abscesses (pus-filled pockets of infection) of the bones or brain. These are life-threatening conditions that require emergency treatment.
Sinusitis not only causes congestion, but also increases your likelihood of developing infections and other problems. If you have symptoms associated with sinusitis, contact Suncoast ENT Surgical Specialists in Tampa or Spring Hill to schedule a consultation.