What is SINUSITIS?
Sinusitis is the inflammation or infection of the sinuses. It invariably starts as a simple cold or flu. But unlike a cold, the symptoms persist beyond a week to 2 weeks.
What are the Symptoms of Sinusitis?
A blocked nose, runny nose with thick mucus, postnasal drip with phlegm and cough, facial pain and headaches with or without fever are symptoms of sinusitis. In the acute or early infection, the symptoms are more severe. Over time, the symptoms become less bothersome but remain persistent. Individuals that have symptoms of persistent phlegm, mucus, clearing of throat, cough and blocked nose need to exclude sinus infection especially if these take place after flu.
The underlying problem is a blocked sinus opening damming infected material in the sinuses. Only when the choked point is clear will the sinuses recover.
What is the relation of Allergic Rhinitis and Sinusitis?
Sinusitis is the inflammation of the sinuses. While allergic rhinitis does not cause sinusitis directly, individuals with allergic rhinitis are more prone to have sinusitis. The sinus infection also tends to be more severe. In the treatment of the sinusitis, allergic rhinitis must also be addressed otherwise; the symptoms of sinusitis can become chronic.
What is the treatment for sinusitis?
Treatment of sinusitis is initially with medication. These include antibiotics and medicine to clear the phlegm and mucus. If after several courses of antibiotics and symptoms still persist, an evaluation by an ENT surgeon is needed to rule out problems of allergy, polyps, structural abnormalities and tumours making the symptoms persistent.
If medical treatment is not successful, a CT scan (X Ray) of the sinus will be needed to evaluate the extent of infection. Surgery may be needed to clean the sinus and unblock the choked sinus.
Currently the operation of choice is Endoscopic Sinus Surgery. This is a minimally invasive surgery done by endoscopes with no cuts on the face or gum. Computerised image guided surgery system is currently available to make the endoscopic sinus surgery more complete, safer and more accurate especially in repeat surgery.
A recent development of Balloon Sinuplasty has also made sinus surgery easier and the recovery faster.