Understanding Chronic Sinusitis:
The sinuses are air-filled cavities in the cheeks, forehead and around the eyes. They continuously make a small amount of mucous that is secreted into the nose and they can sometimes become infected. 37 million Americans are affected by sinus infections each year. Here in Hamilton county and the surrounding counties, as many as 1 in 5 people have complaints of chronic sinus infections. Symptoms of sinus infections include facial pain and pressure, headache pain, congestion and stuffy nose, thick, yellow-green nasal discharge, bad breathe and pain in the upper teeth. Although many people think chronic sinus infections are normal, this one health problem can cause a significant impact on your quality of life, work performance and personal finances. Sinus infections are usually treated by your family physician using antibiotics, however these infections can recur so often that they become a chronic condition. When this happens there are usually other factors causing inflammation, chronic swelling and poor function of the sinuses. As the function of the sinuses worsens, generally the sinus infections also worsen in severity and lengthen in duration. They also become more difficult to treat with common antibiotics.
Improving Your Health
If you are unfortunate enough to be afflicted with chronic sinus infections, there are many strategies that you can try right now to improve the health of your sinuses. The chronic inflammation that eventually triggers chronic sinus infections can be triggered from many sources. Many of these sources are in your environment and if you begin to identify and limit your exposure to these triggers – your symptoms may dramatically improve.
First look at your work, hobbies, home environment and personal habits. Tobacco smoke can be a major cause of chronic sinus inflammation. Chronic mold exposures can also cause significant ongoing sinus problems. Your local hardware store now has easy to use kits to identify mold in the places you spend time. Also, consider the chemicals you may come in contact through your work or hobbies and any allergies you may have. Irritation from what you breathe in can be the primary source of inflammation, swelling and eventual infection in your sinuses.
Secondly, always be aware of the things that make you feel worse. Remember, avoidance of the triggers that make you sick is the most effective way to prevent chronic sinus complaints.
Over The Counter Treatments
There are many over the counter medications now available to effectively improve your symptoms. One important thing to remember is that any medication or therapy that you try should be used daily for at least a week and typically up to three weeks to see if it will be effective. Your chronic sinus condition has been present with you for months and it usually takes weeks to begin to reverse any changes that have occurred.
There are at least three classes of treatment currently available over the counter at most major pharmacies. One class of treatment is mucolytics. These thin your mucous and improve your sinus health by breaking up thick mucous so that it can leave your sinuses. Another class of treatment that can be very effective is oral anti-histamines. These come in non-drowsy form, have few side effects and can dramatically improve the effects of inflammation in your sinuses if taken for an adequate length of time. Ask your pharmacist for recommendations regarding these medications.
Finally, one of the most effective treatments for chronic sinus symptoms is not a medication at all. Saline nasal spray or salt-water irrigations can be both beneficial and cost-effective in the management of your condition. To improve your health, these treatments physically remove the things that are causing inflammation and infection in your sinuses.
Advances in Medical Treatment
If conservative treatment has failed you, it is time to consider a physician consultation for skilled management of your condition. Discuss with your doctor the options that are available for you. In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you see a specialist for the treatment of your condition. These specialists are experts in the management of chronic sinus infections and offer services that span the range of treatment from medication, allergy testing and treatment to minimally invasive sinus procedures.
Your doctor or specialist will initially try innovative medical management in an attempt to improve your symptoms. These medications include antibiotics different than you may have been on in the past and also include entirely new classes of medications that treat the source of your chronic condition – inflammation.
There are now new and effective strategies that use combinations of topical nasal steroid sprays (Fluticasone, Veramyst, Nasonex), new topical anti-histamine sprays (Patanase) and new generations of oral anti-histamines to dramatically reduce the triggers of inflammation in your sinuses. Daily use of these medications can begin to improve your symptoms in as little as three weeks.
No one should suffer with chronic sinus infections any more.
For More Information
Indiana Sinus Centers through its partnerships with local hospitals is committed to offering the surrounding residents with the latest advancements in the treatment of chronic sinus conditions. Dr. Bichey is a board certified specialist skilled in the utilization of new techniques such as Balloon Sinuplasty and Coblation Technology to bring sinus suffers back to a state of normal health with minimal inconvenience, time off work and recovery.
You may ask your family physician for a referral. Direct and On-Line appointments are also welcome.