Sinusitis is a common condition that affects millions of people every year in the UK. Following a persistent cold, the lining of the sinuses becomes inflamed, which causes sinus infection symptoms such as a blocked nose and sinus pain.
Symptoms of sinusitis
The symptoms are a combination of one or more of:
- A blocked nose
- Facial congestion
- Excessive catarrh (runny nose)
- Poor sense of smell.
Often this leads to poor quality sleep and reduced productivity. Less common symptoms include dizziness, blocked ears and toothache.
When a patient develops a cold that "won’t go away” dragging on for weeks, or recurring frequently, that is when to consider the diagnosis of sinusitis. The diagnosis is mostly based on the symptoms but the doctor would also examine the nose and if need be arrange appropriate investigations.
Treatment of sinus infections
Sinusitis is treated medically and is based on treating any underlying allergies with appropriate sprays and tablets. Occasionally antibiotics are needed but this is not the rule. In most cases of sinusitis this would be sufficient. If medical treatment fails, then a referral to an ENT specialist will be required.
Sinus infections are occasionally serious when they threaten to spread to neighbouring structures such as the eyes of the brain. Mostly though sinusitis is not a serious condition, and with appropriate treatment can be controlled.
Surgery choice for chronic sinusitis
Surgery may be the only option in draining a badly blocked or infected sinus properly.
Endoscopic surgery is the preferred choice of surgery for most cases of chronic sinusitis as it is less invasive. Endoscopic surgery can remove the blockage of the sinus openings, which could include bone or polyps (growths).
Sinus surgery is used when there is development of pus in a sinus or an infection in the facial bones. During this procedure, the doctor makes an opening in the sinus from inside the mouth or through the skin of the face.